Health watchdog sees ‘positive change’ at GDC

The General Dental Council’s measures to improve its performance have been recognised by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE).
In its review of performance in 2011 just published, the CHRE noted the GDC’s 'changes to its established processes, as well as its new processes, policies and systems to enable [the GDC] to become a more effective regulator'.
It added: 'The GDC has demonstrated that it meets most of the Standards of Good Regulation for fitness to practise'; highlighting the following measures taken to improve this function:
• A triage system to help identify high risk cases for fast-tracking
• Seeking expert clinical advice at a much earlier stage of cases to assess seriousness
• Notifying employers at an early stage of allegations against a registrant
• Seeking health reports in relation to all registrants who have received a criminal conviction or caution for offences involving alcohol or drugs
• Enhancing the expertise of staff support for fitness to practise committees
• The introduction of a new case management system for handling fitness to practise cases.
In relation to the GDC’s other functions, the report also commends the GDC for:
• A fundamental review of its continuing professional development scheme
• The comprehensive nature of its consultation in reviewing 'Standards for Dental Professionals'
• The publication of detailed guidance on ethical advertising and remote prescribing
• The development of a new ‘outcomes-focused’ regime for dental education and training.
Two areas of the GDC’s work have been singled out as areas of good practice:
• Efforts to publicise the process used to address concerns or complaints about education and training providers
• The introduction of an in-house audit team to drive continuing improvement in its registration procedures.
The CHRE notes that further work is needed to improve the timeliness of progression of Fitness to Practise cases and quality of decisions.
Chief executive Evlynne Gilvarry said: 'We welcome this report and the acknowledgement of the progress we have made over the past year. We agree with the CHRE on the further measures necessary to increase the rate of progression of fitness to practise cases and to bring about further necessary improvements in the handling of cases.'
Chair of the GDC, Kevin O’Brien: 'I’m very pleased that the CHRE has recognised the improvements made. This is down to the hard work of the Executive Management team, all the staff and the Council. We are aware of what remains to be achieved and we have a single focus on that this year.'
The full report can be found on the CHRE’s website at

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