Latest updates from the GDC - May 2021

New pay by instalments option for ARF now ready for sign up 

Last month we announced a new pay by instalment option for those who pay their own Annual Retention Fee (ARF). The quarterly Direct Debit payment option is designed to support those who would find it helpful to spread the cost over the year in four equal payments. For dental care professionals this will be four payments of £28.50.

If you would like to pay your ARF by instalments in 2021, eGDC is now ready for you to sign up. To take advantage of this option this year, you need to log in to eGDC and select the quarterly Direct Debit option no later than 31 May.

UK-REACH and COVID-19 vaccinations  

The first set of results from the UK-REACH study looking at ethnicity and COVID-19 outcomes in healthcare workers have been published. Researchers found COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in 23% of healthcare workers. On publication, Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, said:

"We encourage all dental professionals to be vaccinated as an important step in protecting their patients, their communities - and of course - themselves. This research shows that most healthcare workers - including dental professionals - recognise that vaccines are safe and effective, but that a minority remain hesitant. It’s important to understand the reasons for that so that concerns can be addressed, and take-up encouraged.

“We have recently updated our vaccination guidance for dental professionals and employers which we encourage everyone working in dentistry to read. We will continue to seek opportunities to promote as wide a vaccination take-up as possible and to support the important work of the UK-REACH study.”

Regulatory reform 2021 

The long-awaited consultation from the Department of Health and Social Care, which sets out proposals to reform the legislation under which healthcare regulators operate is now open. We want to encourage everyone with an interest in the proposals to consider the details and to respond.

Our Head of GDC Policy and Research Programme, Rebecca Cooper, has been looking at the proposals for the reforms to the governance and operating framework outlined in the consultation, such as the future make up of our Council, in the first of a series of blog posts. You can find out more about the regulatory reform proposals from our website.

New research: understanding experiences of fitness to practise 

We want to improve our fitness to practise processes and strengthen our ability to extract and share the learnings from others from these activities. To help us to better understand the experiences of dental professionals, patients, and witnesses we have commissioned new qualitative research from the Health Professions Education Unit, Hull York Medical School. The study is now underway.

Researchers will be talking to dental professionals, who have been involved in the fitness to practise process within the last three to four years, witnesses, and those who have raised concerns with us, drawing on their direct experiences. Those participating in the research will play an important part in shaping our ongoing programme of work to improve how we regulate the dental professions, and we would like to encourage you to get involved if you are invited to take part.

Fitness to practise changes: observations and clinical assessments

We’ve made permanent and lasting changes to our fitness to practise process. The changes provide an additional 14 days, on request in selected cases, to the current time limit for dental professionals to provide their observations. We are also providing early disclosure of clinical assessment reports in cases fitting the criteria.

The benefits we expect to see from these changes and details of how they will be applied are explored in the latest post from John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise.

Championing equality, diversity and inclusion 

We have published our new objectives to help us drive improvements and to champion equality, diversity and inclusion. We aim to ensure that our regulatory activities are fair, transparent and accessible to all, that the public are able to engage effectively with us, and that we embed an inclusive workplace culture at all levels.

Our Executive Director, Organisational Development, Sarah Keyes, explains why these objectives are so important to everyone and why we’re putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of effective regulation in her blog post on the strategy.

Entering the next phase of the Scope of Practice review 

In June, we will be holding a series of workshops with dental professionals and stakeholder organisations to help us in the next phase of our Scope of Practice review. We will be dedicating a workshop to each of the dental professions, where we will discuss and ask for feedback on what the revised Scope of Practice guidance should look like and include.

We will be recruiting participants for these workshops over the coming weeks. We really want to hear a range of voices from across all of the professions, so if you receive an invitation from us, please seriously consider getting involved. This is an opportunity to work with us to shape and modernise our Scope of Practice guidance.

National Dental Workforce Survey: career progression 

Health Education England is carrying out an anonymous survey as part of the Advancing Dental Care review to understand the career progression of dentists in the UK. They are asking about any perceived factors you have encountered over your practising lifetime which may have influenced your career pathway, (including any recent changes due to COVID-19), and any suggestions for improvements to career pathways in the future.

Your views will help them to shape and develop future training and career development opportunities for dentists within the UK. The survey is open until Thursday 13 May.