BDA slams GDC for refusal to change ARF payments

The GDC has come under fire from the dental profession after confirming it will not make changes to the annual retention fee (ARF)The GDC has come under fire from the dental profession after confirming it will not make changes to the annual retention fee (ARF).

The council revealed it will not reduce the ARF or create a scheme that allows registrants to pay by instalments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In open letter to GDC chair William Moyes, the British Dental Association (BDA) greeted the news with ‘great dismay and disappointment’. It also calls for ‘greater transparency’ into the reasons why the GDC have taken this decision.

The letter states: ‘It is a great shame that our regulator – who prides itself on making significant improvements to its way of working, wants to work collaboratively with the profession, and whose finances include a significant budget operating surplus and significant reserves – cannot see how positive such a move would have been, and how negative its absence is.’

Additionally, it suggests the impact will be significant ‘on the most vulnerable of the profession’. This includes new graduates, young dentists leaving foundation training and dental care professional colleagues.

BDA chair Mick Armstrong said: ‘Despite recognising the dire financial circumstances in which many practices and individual registrants find themselves, the GDC has not seen fit to provide even token support. It cites no fundamental change to the work it does and the little financial impact the move would have on registrants.

‘Greater transparency into the reasoning behind this decision would have been the very least response registrants should have received.

‘But the message we are left with is ‘we need all the money and whatever we could do won’t really help you much.’’

GDC responds to reaction

The GDC has responded to the criticism, stating the decision was ‘not reached easily or lightly’.

A spokesperson for the GDC said: ‘The real solution to these issues is to achieve a safe return to treating patients – a goal we all share, and all have a part to play in.

‘But while that remains uncertain, we still have to carry out our legal duties and we need to ensure that we have the financial resilience to do so. Our free reserves provide only limited cover and it would not be prudent to run them down.

‘We know that the decisions not to reduce the ARF further, or to introduce an emergency instalment scheme, will not be welcome ones and they were not reached easily or lightly. But we continue to believe they were the right ones to take.’

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