Latest updates from the GDC - July 2022

Consultation opens on our strategic plans for the next three years

We’re seeking your views on our strategic plans for the next three years.

We’ve set out our plans for public protection at a time of considerable uncertainty for dentistry and the UK. Our strategy provides a framework for how we plan to manage uncertainty while furthering our ambition for a flexible and responsive regulatory system that:

  • maintains dental education and training standards
  • promotes high professional standards in practice
  • supports the registration of those who meet our standards
  • provides public protection if a dental professional falls short of expectations.  

Our core functions are our priority

Our strategic priorities are to keep building effective prevention strategies and operating a proportionate system for resolving concerns, to further our ambition to shift the balance from enforcement to prevention. We will focus on our core functions and make improvements where we can, recognising that legislative reform is needed to fully realise our ambitions but the timetable for change is far from clear or certain.

GDC Executive Director, Stefan Czerniawski, said:

“After the shock of the pandemic and in a rapidly changing environment, we have taken this opportunity to review our aims and objectives and to make sure that our strategic direction remains the right one for the next three years. Our priority is to continue focusing on ensuring dental professionals on our registers reach and maintain the highest standards, but to be ready to intervene where those standards are not met.”

Inflationary risks are increasing costs and fees

Current inflation means our costs have increased, and the signs are that high inflation will continue. So we have detailed the approach we will take to manage that risk. We expect fees to be higher than the levels set in 2019, to around £730 (7%) for dentists and around £120 (5%) for dental care professionals in 2023.

These are our current best estimates of the level at which fees will be set, and the actual level will be set in relation to the final expenditure plan, following this consultation.

If inflation continues to be high, we will do everything we can to keep our costs down, but we may have to increase our fees again in subsequent years. We have set out the reasons for this and detailed our approach, including a commitment to limit any increase to the rate of inflation, at most, unless there are other exceptional circumstances.

Help shape our strategic plans 

Our consultation provides you with an opportunity to help shape our strategic plans for the next three years. It is now open and will close in nine weeks on midnight, Tuesday 6 September.

We look forward to hearing your views

GDC Chair wants to hear your views on our strategic three-year plan 

Our Chair explains that our strategic three-year plans are not set in stone and encourages everyone to read them and respond. We explain our responsibilities and priorities, and hearing your feedback is one way that we broaden and improve our thinking.

We look forward to hearing your views.

GDC responds to proposed approach to consultations on fluoridation 

The Department of Health and Social Care has been consulting on its approach to future consultations on water fluoridation schemes in England. The consultation is now closed. You will find our response to the proposals on our website.

The consultation follows the establishment of new powers that allow the Secretary of State, instead of local authorities, to establish new water fluoridation schemes. The consultation sought views on the proposed approach to statutory consultations on future schemes.  

GDC Executive Director for Strategy at the LDC Conference 2022

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, spoke to Local Dental Committee members at their conference on 10 June, alongside the Care Quality Commission. Setting out our role and exploring the current state of dentistry, Stefan highlighted the need for regulatory reform and took questions from attendees.

Stefan noted that the ambition for reform is strong, but the delivery slow and the timetable increasingly uncertain. We continue to press government for progress.  

New research into the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the dental sector

Our latest research into the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the dental sector indicates that the system is being overstretched, with many dental professionals and patients moving away from NHS dental services to the private dental sector.

Demand for dental care has increased across all sectors, particularly the NHS, due to several reasons identified by the research, including a backlog in treatment. And despite higher levels of stress and anxiety, dental professionals continue to rise to the extraordinary challenges posed by the pandemic to deliver care and help the sector recover.

The pandemic has also exacerbated existing health inequalities. The research found that a higher proportion of people from Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds were having more difficulties in accessing dental care. However, the research did find that confidence in dental services and feelings of safety in visiting practices has improved amongst the public since August 2020.

You can read the highlights and download the reports from our COVID-19 hub page.

Dental Professionals Hearings Service launched  

We have created a new identity and brand for our hearings service. The Dental Professionals Hearings Service was launched on 21 June. Our hearings already take place before a committee of independent panellists. This change has been made to further highlight the independence of the hearings function from the GDC’s investigation and prosecution functions.

The new website has all the information relating to dental hearings in one place. This includes listings of upcoming hearings, a bank of past decisions, guidance and resources, and support information for all who are required or wish to attend a hearing. Having everything in one place helps to improve the experience of everyone involved in a hearing, including dental professionals, witnesses and members of the public.

The legislation we operate under prevents the creation of an entirely independent hearings function and as such the new service remains legally part of, and accountable to, the GDC. However, the new dedicated hearings service illustrates our commitment to making improvements wherever we can, while we wait for regulatory reform.

John Cullinane, Executive Director Fitness to Practise, explains more in his recent blog Why we gave our hearings service a new name and identity.

Meeting dental professionals and stakeholders in Scotland

It was a pleasure for us to attend the NHS Scotland Conference: Pandemic Recovery and Reform for the Future, a theme which clearly resonates in dentistry. We co-hosted an exhibition stand with our sister-regulators at GMC, GPhC and NMC and had positive discussions with dental professionals and other colleagues from across the health and social care sectors who were present in impressive numbers despite the disruption to train travel.  

Earlier in June, we also joined an exhibition stand alongside other healthcare regulators within the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament. This was a very successful and privileged opportunity for us to hear the views of MSPs from all parties, many of whom expressed concerns about their constituents’ access to NHS dental care. We also discussed our role as a four-nation regulator. It was an added bonus to have a visit to our stand from the Minister for Public Health, Maree Todd MSP.

This follows our presence at May’s Dentistry Show in Birmingham and reflects our commitment to get out-and-about to engage with dental professionals and other key stakeholders across the UK.