Government pledge to modernise GDC in response to COVID-19

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The government has committed to transforming laws related to professional regulators – including the GDC. 

Kicking off a consultation earlier this year – Reducing bureaucracy in the health and social care system: call for evidence – the Department of Health and Social Care has committed to making a change among professional regulators.

This aims to modernise and transform the legal framework of the nine health and care professional regulators. This commitment to regulatory reform would also extend to dentistry and the General Dental Council (GDC).

Dr Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection welcomed the news – but says words need to be put into action.

Bureaucratic burden

‘Dental Protection welcomes the commitment by DHSC to modernise the work of regulators such as the GDC, with the aim of reducing the bureaucratic burden on dental professionals,’ he said.

‘The high level proposals set out by the government are a welcome step in the right direction. But words must be followed by action.

‘It has been nearly 10 years since the DHSC first proposed fundamental legal changes. These would allow the GDC to take a more proportionate approach to investigating concerns about dental professionals.

‘The vast majority of GDC investigations are closed without action. The end result being that far too many dental professionals go through a stressful process each year.

‘Meanwhile, the patient making the complaint also endures a lengthy process with what is for them a disappointing outcome.

‘Dentists and patients alike cannot be forced to endure another 10 years of delay on something so important. A clear timeline for next steps must be set out.’

Outdated powers

He believes it is important measures are enforced that reduce the burden of unnecessary investigations.

‘Reforms to the Dentists Act could give the GDC more discretion to not take forward investigations where allegations clearly do not require action,’ he added.

‘The current powers of the GDC were framed more than 30 years ago – when a very small number of complaints were received. The GDC could investigate each and every one.

‘Now, over one thousand dental professionals are referred to the GDC each year. Very few come close to the threshold of serious concern that the GDC was established to address.

‘It is absolutely right that regulators are able to focus their efforts on the small minority of healthcare professionals that might meet their thresholds for concern and that they are able to reduce the burden and avoidable costs of unnecessary investigations.’

The full report can be read here. 


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