Latest updates from the GDC - December 2021

COVID-19 guidance update

The COVID-19: infection prevention and control dental appendix was updated on 25 November, in line with the revision of the IPC guidance for health and care settings. It applies to all dental settings, including those in the independent and private sector. Those in hospital dental services (secondary care) should liaise with their trust or organisation to determine whether this appendix or the IPC guidance for health and care settings is most appropriate for their services.

The guidance is issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, NHS National Services Scotland, UK Health Security Agency and NHS England as official guidance.

The standard operating procedure for NHS England has been updated to reflect the changes.

Annual Renewal deadlines for dentists

The deadline for Annual Renewal for dentists is approaching. Dentists will need to ensure they have completed the necessary steps by midnight 31 December 2021.

As well as paying the ARF, dentists will need to declare that they have, or will have, indemnity cover in place. Dentists must also make an annual, or end of cycle, CPD statement by 28 January 2022. Those who have a shortfall in CPD hours for reasons relating to COVID-19, are asked to do what they can to complete their hours, but we understand this may not be possible.

Dentists who have a shortfall will need to make a CPD statement in the normal way. We will be in touch with those who are short of CPD hours, after the deadline passes, to tell them what they need to do next. We will not penalise anyone who has not been able to meet CPD requirements due to COVID-19.

Further information on CPD and guidance on CPD shortfalls during COVID-19 can be found on our website.

A view from the GDC’s Chair, Lord Toby Harris

The GDC Chair talks about the benefits of professional regulation to both patients and the professions, a view reinforced after his meetings with the Health and Care Professions Council and Care Quality Commission. Toby’s blog post is also a reminder of the GDC’s role in ensuring the quality of dental education, and looks ahead to meeting the Dental Schools Council and COPDEND in December.

Celebrating National Dental Nurse Day 

Dental nurses made up 49% of dental professionals on our registers in 2020, amounting to almost 59,000 nurses. As the largest group of professionals registered with the GDC, it was good to be able mark National Dental Nurse Day by joining the BADN’s Anniversary event. Several colleagues from the GDC, including the Chair, were pleased to celebrate 80 +1 years of this association and hear inspiring stories of learning, professionalism, and career development from dental nurses.

Low level concerns agreement launched in Northern Ireland

The Low level concerns agreement for Northern Ireland was launched on 8 November 2021. It ensures resolution is sought in the most appropriate place for concerns which do not meet the threshold for a GDC fitness to practise investigation. The process enables these concerns to be handled promptly, using existing local processes, by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) for dentists on the Dental List, or HSC Trusts if the concern relates to an employee of Hospital Dental or Community Dental Services.

The process was agreed with the Department of Health and the HSCB, with input from the British Dental Association. Caroline Lappin, Chief Dental Officer for Northern Ireland, has highlighted the agreement as an excellent example of partnership working and provided some further reflections following her first months in office.

Findings from the GDC stakeholder perceptions research 2020

Results of research undertaken to better understand GDC stakeholder perceptions and communication preferences have now been been published. The work was undertaken from September to December 2020, as the UK was entering its second coronavirus lockdown. We would like to thank all of the dental professionals, students, and stakeholders who took part.

The research results show that overall perceptions of the GDC were more negative (58%) than positive (21%) and had worsened amongst the dental team over recent years, while improving slightly amongst dental students and stakeholder representatives. Factors most influential in shaping opinions were the experiences of colleagues and friends (51%) and our response to COVID-19 (45%).

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, explores the results in more depth, considering the drivers and the need to rebuild relationships in the sector, and John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise, explains how we are responding to the performance challenge.  

Delivering better oral health toolkit 

Revisions to the Delivering better oral health toolkit were released in November. The guidance provides evidence-based interventions and advice on how to improve and maintain the oral and general health of patients.

The updated toolkit is the result of a comprehensive review of published research evidence on prevention and draws on a UK-wide collaboration of over 100 well respected experts, including frontline dental teams and patient representatives.

The future direction of lifelong learning

Our report summarising views on the future direction of lifelong learning for dental professionals has been published. Overall, there was strong support for the proposed direction for lifelong learning, particularly the move towards a professionally owned, self-directed model, with some concerns about the practicalities of the proposed model, such as associated costs, access to certain activities, and compliance.

Thank you to those who responded. Our next step is to complete a comprehensive evaluation of the current Enhanced CPD scheme. This evaluation, alongside the feedback received, will form the basis for our proposals for how the expectations for lifelong learning are reflected within a future scheme.

We will continue to engage with stakeholders as we progress this work, and before any changes are made to CPD.