‘Blow to profession’: GDC says there are ‘limits’ on changes to ARF payments in light of coronavirus

The GDC has said it will not refund or waive ARF paymentsThe GDC has there are ‘very real limits’ on its ability to be flexible over ARF payments in light of the coronavirus crisis.

It points to its limited financial reserves and the fact most of its income derives from registrants – and states that it was able to reduce the ARF for dentists by 24% last year.

However, it has voiced its commitment to looking at other possible solutions in terms of an emergency instalment scheme. It goes on to say it will provide an update prior to the DCP ARF collection in the summer.

Michael Watson believes this decision is insensitive to the dental profession.

He said: ‘Their refusal now to reduce or waive ARF payments for this year will be seen as yet another blow to a profession facing at best financial uncertainty and at worst ruin, with a total loss of income for many private practices.

‘For the GDC to claim credit for reducing the ARF for dentists last year by 24% and now to plead poverty by saying their ‘financial reserves are limited’, will be seen by the profession as insensitive to say the least.

‘Their support for dentists who redeploy elsewhere in the NHS is welcome, however, as is their assertion that they will be sympathetic to people who are finding it difficult to maintain their CPD in current circumstances.

‘But on the whole, this is a disappointing letter.’

As coronavirus continues to disrupt, this is one of a number of industry updates the GDC has released based on two principles it set out last month:

  • Minimising the burden of time and attention imposed on registrants
  • Maximising the flexibility of registrants to manage professional activities in response to coronavirus challenges

Lack of legal power

Additionally, the GDC also dismissed emergency registration for those dentists keen to help but no longer on the register – unless the government puts in place the necessary legislation.

While other medical-based regulators have specific legal powers to give temporary registration, the GDC does not.

However, it states that plans are in place for a temporary register to be quickly created should the relevant legislation be passed.

The most recent updates also warned against fake communications, asking dental teams to watch out for misleading information.

It stated that some sources have been falsely claiming that the GDC will penalise professionals who do not volunteer to help fight COVID-19.

It clarified that volunteering is entirely optional and that the choice is not a fitness to practise issue.

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