D-Day for dentists - Those not registered by tomorrow to be named and shamed
Dentists practising locally without current registration certificates could find themselves in serious problems with the law after tomorrow.
A Sunday Gleaner probe had found that of the almost 250 dentists operating in Jamaica, only a little more than half (140) had paid the $20,000 fee for the biennial renewal of their dental certificates and submitted proof that they had attended the compulsory continuing education classes.
This meant that at least 110 dentists are operating illegally on the island, as the fees became overdue on April 1.
The Dental Council of Jamaica (DCJ) subsequently offered an amnesty for dentists residing in Jamaica and those abroad, registered to practise here, to pay up their fees, including late charges, and submit proof of continuing education.
That amnesty expires tomorrow, leaving those who have not complied at the mercy of the laws of the land.
"They could face serious penalties, or persons may find that they are in serious trouble with the law," said Dr Irving McKenzie, chief dental officer in the Ministry of Health.
"So a police officer can come and say you are not supposed to be practising; a public health inspector can come and say you are not supposed to be there because you are not registered to be practising in Jamaica," added McKenzie, who is also a member of the DCJ.
According to the registrar of DCJ, Dr Lloyd Prince, since The Sunday Gleaner's article was published on October 18, dentists both locally and abroad have been responding in a very positive manner.
"The article generated the greatest stir, and then with the ad (setting the deadline for registration) coming out, it has stimulated interest," said McKenzie.
The DCJ has advertised to remind dentists that the Dental Act of Jamaica mandates that persons practising dentistry in Jamaica must obtain a practising certificate, and that the renewal of biennial practising certificates for the years 2015 to 2017 was due on April 1, 2015.
Dentists were also reminded that practising certificates would be issued based on the provision of 10 hours of continuing dental education and payment of the requisite fees, inclusive of late-payment charge.
McKenzie said with dentists having been given due notice to update their certificates, the DCJ will now look to expose those still operating illegally, so they can be purged from the system and the public informed.
"The names of those who are not current in terms of practising certificates will be published in the newspaper and on the website of the Dental Council," said McKenzie.
"So people will know all the dentists who are not eligible to practise in Jamaica."
The DCJ also intends to submit the names of the dentists with valid practising certificates to health insurance providers, so they can rid their systems of those practising illegally.
"So if a dentist is a provider and he or she decides not to be current it is going to hit them in their pockets, because the insurance companies are now going to drop them from their list," McKenzie said.
"Another thing is a letter will be going out to those in government services who are not current, so the Government will know that persons are not up to date and are therefore not eligible to be treating persons. These records will also be going to academic institutions and other areas where they can really have an impact."