Regulatory reform programme takes a step forward, but further delay for the GDC

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has today released the results of its 2021 consultation on proposals to reform professional healthcare regulation, alongside a consultation on the proposals for two new associate professions to be regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC). The latter billed as a template for future healthcare professional regulation.

The announcement from DHSC includes a revised timetable for the regulatory reform programme. We are extremely disappointed and continue to be frustrated by the timetable, as fundamental reform of our framework now appears to be three or four years away at best. Further, the potential for abolishment or mergers of regulators remains on the table, with results of the review started in 2021 yet to be released. These decisions mean we will continue to operate under a cloud of considerable uncertainty for years to come.

We think the reform programme needs to go faster in the interests of the public and patients, and the dental team who continue to be regulated by an outdated framework. Our investigations in support of public safety and confidence take too long to resolve, and wider performance improvements are constrained by rigid regulations. Change is urgently needed. 

The pace of reform is a decision for government. We said in our corporate strategy that further delay on wider reforms of our regulatory framework was a possibility, and set out our plan for these circumstances. So we will be focusing on modernising our international registration process, and pressing on with improvements to our fitness to practise function, where we can, within our current legislative constraints.   

We urge our stakeholders to review the outcomes to the consultation, and to consider and respond to the proposed framework for the two new associate titles to be regulated by the GMC by 16 May 2023. We will be doing the same. Your views are important, and will help shape future reform package proposals, including those for dentistry.