Consultation on GDC’s three-year strategic plan opens amidst great uncertainty in dentistry

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  Posted by: The Probe      5th July 2022

The General Dental Council (GDC) has today opened a consultation on its plans for the next three years. The regulator is seeking views on its proposed strategy which focuses on ways both to prevent patient harm and to be proportionate when handling the concerns it receives, progressing its ambition to shift the balance from enforcement to prevention.

The strategy includes plans to embed new principles of professionalism, providing the dental team the space needed to make informed judgements relevant to the situations faced in practice. There are also ongoing plans to focus investigations on the most serious concerns, such as those that raise issues of public safety or confidence.

The quality of the regulation the GDC can provide is closely linked to the quality of legislation it works under. This legislation has not been fundamentally updated for four decades and its weaknesses are becoming increasingly apparent while the timetable for reform gets less and less certain. The regulator says it will continue to press government for the reform it needs to become more agile and efficient – and be ready to respond should it arrive in the next three years – but it will also continue to focus on its core functions, and make improvements wherever it can, should reform not materialise.

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.”

This is a consultation on the regulator’s plans and what those plans will cost to deliver. That does have an impact on the Annual Retention Fee which the GDC expects will increase from the levels set in 2019 to around £730 (+7%) for dentists and around £120 (+5%) for dental care professionals.

Like everyone, the GDC’s costs have already increased due to inflation and the expected 2023 fee levels reflect this. Inflation is forecast to continue for some time and the regulator says it will do all it can to keep its own costs down, but that it may need to revisit the fee in subsequent years if inflation remains high. The GDC commits to limiting any further increases to the rate of inflation unless other exceptional circumstances arise.

GDC Chair, Lord Toby Harris, said: “I believe the plans we set out in this consultation explain how we intend to manage the significant uncertainty we face in the coming years, while continuing to deliver on our core functions of protecting the public and maintaining confidence in the dental professions. Crucially though, these plans are not yet set in stone. This is a public consultation which provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest to tell us their views and help shape our strategy for the next three years. Now is the time to do this and I encourage everyone to read our plans and tell us what they think.”

The full plans are available on the GDC’s website and the deadline to respond to the consultation is midnight, 6 September 2022.


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