GDC changes quality assurance for dentists’ education and training

GDC commits to development of a risk-based quality assurance process for dental education

In Shifting the balance, as part of an increased emphasis on upstream regulation designed to focus more on the prevention of harm to patients, the General Dental Council (GDC)  made a commitment to develop a risk-based quality assurance process for dental education.

Following a public consultation earlier this year, the GDC is now gradually introducing its proposals over the course of the current year, with full implementation due for completion before the start of the 2019/20 academic year.

Inspections determined by assessment of risk

The major change for education providers is that the frequency, duration, scope and depth of inspections will be determined by an assessment of risk, based on a range of factors including results drawn from new annual education provider self-assessments. The new risk-based system means that the frequency of visits from the GDC may increase, but it also means the duration of inspection is likely to decrease, to reflect the more focused and targeted nature of inspections.

A further major change is the introduction of thematic reviews which are to run in parallel to the risk-based approach to individual providers.

‘Preparedness for practice’

Manjula Das, head of education policy and quality assurance at the GDC, said: ‘The introduction of thematic reviews is designed to enable us to look at not only education programmes in individual institutions, but also at wider issues across the dental education sector.

‘We heard compelling views about what the first theme should be. This led us to select new dentists’ ‘preparedness for practice’ as the area of investigation for our first thematic review – research is currently underway, and we will report on this at the end of 2019. This research will provide a robust evidence base to identify whether improvements are needed and, if so, what those might be, to ensure new graduates are fit and safe to practise.’

‘This is an interesting time for quality assurance in dental education and we are looking forward to working closely with our partners as we implement and learn from this new approach, which will inform our future developments in this important area.’

The GDC’s response to views submitted during the consultation phase and further details of the changes can be found in Education processes: consultation outcome report.

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