Latest updates from the GDC - December 2022

View from the GDC Chair 

In his latest blog post, our Chair, Lord Harris, puts a spotlight on the need for collective action and leadership to tackle the important issues facing dentistry, the forthcoming round of recruitment to our Council, and invites comments on our current consultations.  

DHSC publishes the outcomes of its consultation on international registration

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has reported the outcomes of its consultation on proposals to reform the legislation governing the registration of those who qualify outside of the UK. The consultation was opened in February and closed in May 2022.

We have been working with the DHSC for some time to make changes to our outdated and rigid legislation. We very much welcome this package of reform, as the proposed changes mean we will be able to modernise our processes while continuing to apply our standards for registration, which protect patients and promote public confidence.

Read more about international registration reforms on our website.

Closing soon - Safe practitioner: A framework of behaviours and outcomes for dental professional education consultation

In October, we launched a short consultation on our revised learning outcomes for new registrants. Thank you to everyone who has responded so far.

There have been significant shifts in society and in dentistry since we last updated the learning outcomes in 2015, which now need to be reflected in the expectations of new professionals. Your response to this consultation will be key to ensuring people joining our register have the right skills, knowledge and behaviours.    

The consultation will close on 10 January 2023, and we would encourage as many individuals or organisations as possible to give their views.

You can find out more and provide your response on our website.

Dental leaders acting together  

In our first face-to-face event since the pandemic, dentistry leaders from the likes of government, charities, professional bodies to education and the NHS, came together last month as part of a new Dental Leadership Network.

With the theme being ‘leadership in dentistry’, the GDC’s Chair opened by recognising, “…how stretched the system is and how challenging it’s been for dental professionals to keep delivering oral healthcare…This all adds up to a challenging situation which requires leadership across the sector.

We gave an update on some of our priorities, including regulatory reform, current and future consultations, and fitness to practise. Then, leaders from across the profession shared their own leadership opportunities and challenges. The main talking-points on the day included recruitment and retention of dental professionals, the importance of wellbeing and mental health, balancing the different needs of government, professionals and the public, and how the whole dental team needs to speak with one voice.

Feedback from this event has been very positive and was seen as a great way of collaborating as one, in the best interests of the patient.

The Dental Leadership Network will hold more events throughout 2023, so please keep a look out for further details. For more information, about the network or future events, please contact

Working with future dental leaders in Scotland

We are currently delivering a series of sessions for Scottish dental clinical leadership Fellows. The programme is organised by NHS Education for Scotland and the Fellows are all general dental practitioners.

The level of engagement is excellent, and discussions have focused on our strategic commitment to preventative regulation and promoting professionalism, engagement activities in Scotland, our education and fitness to practise functions, and regulatory reform and international registration.

Consultation on revisions to Interim Orders Committee Guidance now open

We’re now consulting on revisions to our Interim Orders Committee Guidance, and associated supporting information. The revisions proposed look to promote consistency and transparency when assessing the most serious risks to patient safety and public confidence, and to ensure decisions to restrict practice are fair and proportionate.  

The Interim Orders Committee is responsible for considering and controlling any immediate and serious risks to public safety and confidence. It does this through assessing risk, and deciding on whether there is a need to immediately suspend or impose conditions on the practice of a dental professional while the matter is investigated.  

The Guidance and supporting information issued for consultation is for independent fitness to practise panellists, but the changes will also affect those who are subject to an interim order hearing in future, and their representatives. We welcome views from all those with an interest.

Please provide your comments by 2 February 2023.  

New research into people’s experiences of GDC’s fitness to practise process

We commissioned and have now published independent research to help understand and learn from the experiences of those who participate in our fitness to practise investigations.

The findings confirm that fitness to practise outcomes are seen as fair and favourable in relation to public protection and confidence, but there are issues with the process, which takes too long, can be viewed as disproportionate, and is poorly understood by those who participate in it. The complexity and lack of understanding of the process creates mistrust. 

We know that a fitness to practise investigation can be stressful. The current process is overly complex, adversarial and can be very long drawn out. Much of this is a result of overly prescriptive legislation which we have no power to change. We have long been clear that only radical reform of the legislation will allow us to make changes on the scale which is required. This research will nonetheless help inform our continued efforts to improve our processes and systems where we can within the current legislation.

These issues, and how we’re working to improve the process, are explored by John Cullinane, Executive Director Fitness to Practise, in his post on the research findings.

The key findings as well as the full report can be found on our website.

Reporting cause of death of registrants who die while under investigation  

We know that fitness to practise investigations are often a stressful experience, particularly for the dental professional who is the subject of the investigation. Only a very small number of cases result in suspension or erasure from the register, but understandably the prospect of that looms large in the minds of those whose practice is being scrutinised.

A concern has been voiced that some registrants under investigation may take their own lives. We think it is appropriate to develop an accurate picture of the prevalence of suicide while a fitness to practise case is active. We do not currently hold this data, however, and so work is underway to enable us to collect and publish this information. Please read our recent blog post for more information about this important work.

Recruiting new Members of Council in the New Year 

We will soon be recruiting two new registrant Members of Council to join us next year. Applications will open in January, for appointments due to start in October 2023.

We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and want to encourage applications from dental professionals of all backgrounds. We are keen to enhance the diversity of our Council to bring different viewpoints to our Council discussions and decisions.

Please keep an eye out for messages about the opening of applications in the New Year.