Consumers at risk with unlicensed practitioners

THE Consumer Council of Fiji is concerned that weak regulatory controls are exposing consumers to risks in private dental services.

The Council is particularly concerned with the unlicensed dental practitioners who may be providing services without indemnity insurance and other safeguards thereby failing to comply with legal requirements under the Medical and Dental Practitioner Decree 2010. In light of the recent closure of Dr Sashi Prasad?s 5 clinics under the Fiji Dental Council?s directive, we call on the Fiji Dental Council to take proactive measures and investigate the possibility of unlicensed dentists providing services to consumers which is an illegal practice and constitutes an offence by virtue of the said Decree. The Consumer Council believes that the secretariat of the Fiji Medical and Dental Council should take its role more seriously and undertake regular monitoring action to identify and remove unlicensed practitioners.

It is disappointing that the directive from the Dental Council on 6th May 2013 requiring Dr Sashi Prasad to close her 5 clinics and to place advertisement in the newspapers has been ignored by Dr Prasad.

It is also of great concern that these 5 practices have a sole licensed dental practitioner. The question that arises is how all the 5 clinics are operating with only one licensed practitioner?? Consumers are encouraged to show consumer solidarity by coming forward to the Consumer Council of Fiji to reveal the names and details of the dentists that have served them at these 5 clinics recently.

Consumers must realize that they are at a greater risk if the practitioner is uninsured and a consumer?s prospects of being paid appropriate compensation for any negligence claim is possible with the indemnity insurance.

The Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat and the Fiji Dental Council are urged to publicize the current list of dentists with valid annual practice licenses, so that consumers are properly forewarned and are able to make informed decisions when selecting their dentists. The Consumer Council of Fiji is concerned that such crucial information is not provided to the consumers which can minimize the risk against consumers who seek private dental services.

Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer