GDC opens consultation on three-year strategic plan

GDC opens consultation

The GDC is requesting public views on its plans for the next three years, which includes an increase of the Annual Retention Fee.

The GDC has opened a public consultation on its proposed strategic plan for 2023-2025.

This comes after the pandemic caused significant anxiety and uncertainty within dentistry.

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC executive director, stated: ‘After the shock of the pandemic and in a rapidly changing environment, we have taken this opportunity to review our aims and objectives and to make sure that our strategic direction remains the right one for the next three years.

‘Our priority is to continue focusing on ensuring dental professionals on our registers reach and maintain the highest standards, but to be ready to intervene where those standards are not met.’

Shifting focus

The GDC’s proposed three-year strategy seeks to ‘shift the balance from enforcement to prevention’.

It includes plans to be proportionate when handling concerns. Investigations will focus on the most serious issues which threaten public safety or confidence.

It will also focus on ways to prevent patient harm and provide dental teams with ‘new principles of professionalism’. This will allow them to make informed decisions and judgements on the situations they face in practice.

Annual Retention Fee increase

The proposed strategy will also see an increase in the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) from its 2019 set levels. Dentists can expect a 7% rise to around £730 and a 5% rise to £120 for dental care professionals.

The GDC claims these increased fees reflect the rise of inflation. The regulator has stated it may have to ‘revisit the fee in subsequent years if inflation remains high’.

But the BDA has stated the ARF increase will damage goodwill and financially burden dental professionals. It believes the fee increase will ‘only undermine progress in rebuilding trust and confidence in the regulator among the profession’.

Shareena Ilyas, chair of the BDA ethics, education and dental team working group, commented on this increase. She stated: ‘Any hike in the ARF is impossible to justify while the GDC is sitting on vast reserves.

‘The costs of providing care are spiralling, while the real incomes for all team members have collapsed. Further fee increases will only undermine any gains when it comes to restoring this profession’s confidence in its regulator.’

Outdated legislation

GDC regulation works under legislation which has not been updated for four decades. The regulator claims the weaknesses of this legislation are becoming ‘increasingly apparent’. In addition, a plan for its reform is getting ‘less and less certain’.

The GDC stated it will ‘continue to press government for the reform it needs to become more agile and efficient’.

Chris Kenny at MDDUS commented: ‘We agree that the current regulation of healthcare is outdated and in need of reform. We continue to call on the UK Government to act swiftly to ensure the regulatory framework is fit for purpose and fairer for clinicians and patients alike.’

Significant uncertainty

Lord Toby Harris, GDC chair stated: ‘I believe the plans we set out in this consultation explain how we intend to manage the significant uncertainty we face in the coming years, while continuing to deliver on our core functions of protecting the public and maintaining confidence in the dental professions.

‘Crucially though, these plans are not yet set in stone.

‘This is a public consultation which provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest to tell us their views and help shape our strategy for the next three years.

‘Now is the time to do this and I encourage everyone to read our plans and tell us what they think.’

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