‘AI would be more sympathetic’ – dental technician slams GDC for his erasure

'AI would be more sympathetic' – technician criticises GDC erasure

A dental technician who fell short on his CPD requirements after being diagnosed with a brain tumour has slammed the GDC for its handling of his case.  

Amid growing concern with the GDC’s treatment of its registrants expressed by the dental profession, cases of GDC members being struck off the register are being increasingly scrutinised.

Two years ago, Simon Barrington was diagnosed with a brain tumour while working as a dental technician. He underwent significant neurosurgery to remove it, which left him unable to speak in the immediate aftermath. He began working one to two hours per day as soon as his health permitted, which aided his recovery greatly.

During this period, CPD requirements changed from 50 hours in five years to 10 hours each year. According to Simon, he was unaware of this change and did not manage to meet the requirement within that year. This resulted in his removal from the GDC register.

‘I did ring them and ask if I could have an extension because of my medical situation but was told “no”,’ he said. ‘I asked what the best way forward was and was told I would have to wait until I had been erased from the register then have to reapply for my registration.’

However, due to the pressures of recovery, he did not reapply.

‘Considering what I had just been through, I didn’t want the hassle of having to reapply,’ he added. ‘I was still struggling in recovery and hoping I had no tumour left.’

Simon felt that that the GDC should have given more consideration to the extenuating circumstances of his case. He said: ‘It would be lovely to see them treating individual’s cases as unique. I think AI would be more sympathetic.’

‘Our regulator rode roughshod over its registrants’

Other dental technicians have reported a similar frustration with the ‘black and white rules’ of the regulator.

Matt Everatt, editor-in-chief of Laboratory, said: ‘This is yet another instance where our regulator rode roughshod over its registrants, without any empathy for anything but the black and white rules they dogmatically peddle.’

Some technicians have questioned the GDC’s unwillingness to help registrants achieve targets rather than penalising those who are unable to meet them.

Craig Broughton, director of CMB Dental Laboratory, told Dentistry earlier this year: ‘The governing body takes your money every year just to regulate? With no help whatsoever to reach your CPD target? No support or encouragement?’

He suggests that ‘a small change could see a huge shift in attitudes’ in terms of the GDC’s provision of support.

However, some technicians remain steadfast in their support of the GDC. Dental technician James McHugh has previously emphasised a need to ‘place some trust into a governing body’ and ‘let the GDC operate’.

Option to appeal

A GDC spokesperson said: ‘Continuing professional development (CPD) is a vital part of demonstrating commitment to professionalism and ensuring public confidence in dentistry.

‘Dental professionals must comply with the requirements, and there are steps that can be followed to take account of personal circumstances and remain compliant.

‘These include not completing any CPD in a single year, as long as they provide their annual CPD declaration and remain compliant with 10 hours over two consecutive years. Or a dental professional can ask for a grace period to complete their CPD at the end of their five-year CPD cycle.

‘Dental professionals who do not meet the minimum CPD requirements or complete the annual declaration may be removed from the register. Before this happens, we let them know that they can appeal the decision. If they are removed from the register, they can apply for restoration straight away.’

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