Latest updates from the GDC - November 2023

View from the GDC Chair 

Our Chair talks about some of the proposals that we’ve put forward this month and asks for feedback on changes to learning outcomes and the behaviour expected in dental education and training programmes. He also explains that we want to do more to improve our fitness to practise processes and systems, in the absence of regulatory reform.

Council agrees budget and ARF levels for 2023  

Our Council agreed the GDC’s Costed Corporate Plan, operating budget and Annual Retention Fee (ARF) at the end of October. As previously announced, for 2023 the ARF levels are: 

  • £690 for dentists (an increase of 1.5%)
  • £114 for dental care professionals (no change).

Council approved our Costed Corporate Plan at a time of considerable economic uncertainty. Council has set the ARF at levels that ensure we can continue to fulfil our statutory role, and sensibly manage financial risks caused by inflation.  

Further information about the ARF levels for 2023, including an explanation of the GDC’s financial reserves, can be found on our website.  

Consultation now open - Safe practitioner: A framework of behaviours and outcomes for dental professional education 

Now is the time to have a say on our revised learning outcomes for new registrants. We are currently consulting on updates to these outcomes to form a new ‘safe practitioner’ framework, and are seeking your views by 10 January 2023. 

All dental students need to be able to demonstrate they have met our learning outcomes before being awarded their qualification. These are currently listed in our Preparing for Practice framework for education and providers, which was last updated in 2015.  

Since the framework was last reviewed, there have been significant shifts in society and in dentistry, so responses to this consultation will continue to ensure people joining our register have the right skills, knowledge and behaviours.  

We are proposing a number of changes, including: 

  • A change to terminology, adopting the term ‘safe practitioner’ to describe a newly qualified dental professional.
  • Introducing the concept of 'behaviours'.
  • Developing new areas of non-clinical content, which recognises the different landscape we are all now working in.

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

Change to the making of admissions process in fitness to practise hearings 

The Dental Professionals Hearings Service is changing the way that admissions made by dental professionals are handled at the preliminary stage of a fitness to practise hearing, to help increase capacity by reducing the time it takes to complete a substantive hearing. The change will take effect from 31 October, and aligns the process to what is routine practice in adjudicatory contexts. Those who face a hearing after this date will be affected by the change, which has been made following discussions with key stakeholders.  

Dental professionals will be asked whether they admit to any of the charges set out for the fitness to practise hearing in full, or in part, at the end of the preliminary stage. Where an admission is made, the practice committee will proceed on the basis that the facts have been proved.  

The GDC is continually looking for ways to improve performance within current legislative constraints. The change being delivered by the Dental Professionals Hearings Service forms part of a wider programme of work to improve our fitness to practise performance.  

Find out more about the change to admissions on our website.  

Changes to registration application fees from 1 January 2023 

Registration application fees are changing from 1 January 2023.

Thousands of new dental professionals join our register each year, when they pay a one-off fee to cover the cost of processing their application. Since introducing these fees, we have identified further costs which have continued to be met by those already on the register. We aim to allocate the costs of regulation, as far as possible, where they fall.  

One of our most important responsibilities is to ensure those on our registers have the skills, qualifications and professional characteristics required to ensure the safety of the public. The work we do to process and assess applications is therefore very important and it’s right that the costs are charged to people joining the register, rather than those who are already registered. 

The new registration application fees will apply from 1 January 2023.

You can find out more, including the fee levels on our website.

Sharing best practice across healthcare regulators  

The UK’s principal health and social care regulation conference was held in Edinburgh on 24 October. All of the UK’s health and social care professional regulators were represented, together with the Scottish Government, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Our Council member, Angie Heilmann MBE, chief executive, Ian Brack, and other senior colleagues presented sessions on equality, diversity and inclusion; professionalism; patient and public engagement; lessons for regulation from the pandemic; and the need for legislative reform to our regulatory frameworks in the interests of proportionality and efficiency.  

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mr Humza Yousaf MSP, reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to work constructively across the four nations in support of legislative reform, and welcomed the progress made by regulators in improving the collection, sharing and interpreting of EDI data.