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General Dental Council - Principles of Ethical Advertising

by  David Dwyer on  21/10/2015    2001 Reads

The GDC Principles of Advertising | Common Sense route to compliance

The General Dental Council (GDC), in their ‘Principles of Ethical Advertising’ document has a dedicated section on websites for Dental Practitioners. I’ll take you through each one with practical advice on how to make sure each box is ticked. Much of this content will already be on your site anyway, but it’s important to make sure you comply with the regulations.

Your Website MUST display

  • Comparison

This is an important point that is echoed in other elements of the GDC’s code of practice. Essentially, in plain English, it states that you must not compare your dental services or skills to that of another dentist. The full quote from the GDC is shared below-

“A Dental Practice Website must not display information comparing the skills or qualifications of any dental professional providing any service with the skills or qualifications of other dental professionals.”

  • Your Professional Qualification and the country it was obtained.

I recommend that you have this on your ‘About Us’ or ‘Meet The Team’ page. In a multi-dentist practices, it makes sense to add a touch of personality to your site by introducing each dentist and your team of dental hygienists. Just make sure that each bio covers where they studied and the qualification they achieved.

  • GDC Registration Number

Again like Professional Qualification this is best placed next to each dentist and dental hygienists. 

  • Name of Dental Practice & Address

The registered name of your practice will in all likelihood be clearly displayed on your site already. Again obvious but your physical practice address should be prominently displayed along with a Google Map embedded on the page. Although not in the guidelines, it is also a good idea to have a Find Us page. This can provide basic directions for those not as proficient with Google Maps.

Editor: If you haven’t done so already, we recommend you register your Practice with ‘Google My Business’.

  • Contact Details

The email address of the practice and the telephone number should be displayed on the website. Some practices will be reluctant to share the email address to avoid attracting unnecessary spam email. Instead they will opt for an online enquiry form. This is advice we give most of our clients, but the guidelines do stipulate that the email address MUST be displayed. One way around this, and to avoid spam is “David at dentalpractice.co.uk” or even better, have an image of your email address that cannot be indexed by the spambots.

  • Practice Complaints Procedures

Your website must also include details of how you handle complaints within the practice. In addition, it should also provide details of where your patients can go if they are dissatisfied with your response. There are two paths of escalation for your patients, dependent on their circumstance.

If the patient has been receiving NHS treatment, they should escalate their complaint to the appropriate local NHS body.

If the patient is receiving private treatment, they should be directed to the Dental Complaints Service, which is provided by the GDC.  

  • The GDC’s Address or GDC Website

As this is a case of OR and not AND, I recommend simply providing a link to the GDC website. This might best sit on your Complaint Procedure page plus your About Us page, or if you have a dedicated ‘Professional Accreditations’ page, it would sit well there.

 

  • Date The Site Was Last Updated

Each time the content of your site changes you should display the date that the change was made. Doing this manually, while possible, isn’t advised. There are a number of ways of displaying this information, unobtrusively in the footer of your website automatically. Depending on how your site is developed there are tools or widgets that can help you add this simple functionality.

  • Update Content Regularly

Updating your site regularly is, in marketing terms, the right thing to do to help grow your practice. From a compliance perspective the GDC are more interested in the details of practising dentists, and that the services offered are updated to reflect the status of your practice.

  • SSL Encryption

In addition to the listed guidelines, we understand the principles behind these GDC website guidelines. That said we are surprised that they have not yet included SSL Encryption for any private patient registration forms that are completed online.

NHS patients cannot register with their preferred dental practice  via that practices website, instead the paper route needs to be followed. However Private patients can register.

We believe that it is only a matter of time before this is implemented and would recommend any dental practice to follow this approach.

  • Free GDC Updates

Most of these guidelines are self-explanatory, but if you'd like to keep you the right side of the GDC Principles of Advertising, please subscribe to our newsletter and we'll be sure to keep you advised of any changes in their guidelines.

Dental Practice Websites, Dentist Websites, GDC Principles of Ethical Advertising, General Dental Council, Inspire Web Development, Inspire Web Services, Search Engine Optimisation (Web Copy), The Evolving Web, Web Consultancy, Website Copywriting
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