Skip to main content

Talk to us: 0333 004 4488 |

The basics of CQC applications when setting up, selling or purchasing a dental practice

6 min read

Health, Corporate

The basics of CQC applications when setting up selling or purchasing a dental practice

Whether you are looking to set up, sell or purchase a dental practice, you will need make an application to the CQC. Here, our expert Eugene Pena lists the key considerations to help you prepare successfully.


Setting up a new ‘squat’ dental practice


Registering with the CQC

As a dental service provider, you will need to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Yet before registering, you need to make the correct application — so having a clear view of how you are going to trade is key.

There are three ways to register with the CQC:


Appointing a registered manager

There are further requirements that apply to partnerships and organisations. It is a condition of the provider’s registration to appoint a registered manager. For partnerships, this could be one or both of the partners or even the practice manager. For organisations (referring specifically to private limited companies), this can be the director or the practice manager.

Notably, a manager must meet specific requirements relating to registered managers.

The requirements for organisations go a step further as there is a requirement to nominate an individual who will act as the main point of contact with the CQC. The nominated individual should be a senior person with authority to speak on behalf of the organisation.


Providing details of regulated activities

You must also provide details of the regulated activities you are applying for and the location from which those regulated activities will be carried out.

For general dental practices, the regulated activities are:

While practices specialising in orthodontics do not carry out surgical procedures, this does not always apply. Therefore, ensuring that you apply for the correct regulated activities is key.


DBS checks

When registering as a new provider, having a DBS check is a requirement. This must be obtained prior to an application being submitted. Knowing exactly who should apply is important, though depending on the type of application, not everyone involved will need a DBS check. However, be sure to apply for the correct DBS check (note that there are further requirements in respect of DBS checks).


Providing supporting documentation

There is more to the registration process than just completing and submitting the application forms and applying for a DBS check. You’ll also be required to provide a number of supporting documents. Failing to do so could lead to delays, especially given already tight deadlines.

The CQC will likely want to undertake a fit person interview with new applicants (including registered managers) and an inspection of the premises (either face-to face or remotely) will be carried out prior to successful registration.


Timing your application

The CQC application process can take 14 to 16 weeks (and sometimes longer), so timing is key. Applying too soon (for example, while negotiating a lease or sourcing equipment) can lead to the application being refused — after all, the CQC cannot hold on to applications indefinitely.

Making an application later on in the process can lead to lost income. Your practice may be ready and patients might be booked in for treatment, but remember — you cannot carry out any regulated activities if you are not registered. This is a criminal offence.


Selling or purchasing a dental practice

In the same way as when setting up a squat practice, sellers or purchasers of dental practices must also register with the CQC if they carry out any of the regulated activities (as above). Yet there are further considerations when making an application to the CQC as part of a sale or purchase.


Transaction structure

Before making an application, you must ensure that you are clear on the structure of your transaction. For example, are the assets being sold or (where there is a company) will the share(s) be sold?

Different scenarios and structures will have an impact on your CQC applications. Just because a seller owns and operates a practice via a company does not mean that there will automatically be a sale of the shares — the company can also sell its assets. Similarly, if a seller owns and operates a practice as a sole trader, a buyer could still set up a company that will also trade.

Having a standard general dental services (GDS) contract will also involve the seller and the purchaser to register in partnership. Following the sale and purchase, the buyer would have to re-register as an individual provider in place of the partnership. This, in short, is known as the partnership route — and having more than one seller and/or more than one buyer can have an impact on the applications to be made.

Once you have agreed the structure of your transaction, the correct application forms will then need to be prepared, checked through and submitted. The CQC does update the application forms, so you need to make sure that the correct forms are completed.


Supporting documentation and DBS checks

In most instances, supporting documents will need to be submitted as part of the application. These can include policies and procedures, staffing and organisational structures, financial viability statements and proof of insurance (or at least a quote). The level of information required depends on how you register.

A DBS check is again required for most applications. While this must be obtained prior to an application being submitted, depending on the transaction structure, not everyone involved in the deal will need one.


Timing your application

Just like the CQC applications involved in setting up of a squat practice, timing is also key when it comes to the sale and purchase of a dental practice. In most instances, the changes to the registration should only happen on completion of the sale and purchase of the dental practice, so making the applications in good time is key.


Talk to our experienced dental team

Instructing lawyers with the knowledge, expertise and know-how gives dentists a distinct advantage whether setting up, selling or purchasing a dental practice. Our experienced dental team can help you to prepare the correct applications and guide you throughout the application process, liaising with the CQC to ensure that you are issued with the correct paperwork.

Get in touch with me at or speak to our wider dental team for more information.


Related insights