CPD requirements and regulation – isn’t it time for common sense to prevail?

CPD requirements and regulation – isn’t it time for common sense to prevail?

Speaking as part of the Saving Grace campaign, Pam Swain – of the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN) – explains why change needs to happen to save the future of dental nursing.

We all know that CPD is important. But striking dental professionals from the register, and thereby removing them from the workforce, particularly in these times of a recruitment and retention crisis in dentistry, for minor CPD transgressions defies all logic and common sense!

The GDC requires dental nurses, hygienists, therapists (dental and ortho) and technicians to complete, and log via the e-GDC system, 50 hours of CPD per five year cycle. This requirement is complicated by the fact that they have to complete, and log, 10 hours every two subsequent years.

Please join us in advocating for this crucial reform by signing our Saving Grace petition today: www.bit.ly/saving-grace-dentistry. 

There are a variety of reasons why registrants fail to complete and log the required number of hours each year:

Reason number one

They don’t realise they have to! New registrants do not receive comprehensive information from the GDC when they first register, explaining in full what the CPD requirements are and how to sign up to the e-GDC system – they have to find out for themselves.

BADN has an article explaining the CPD requirements, which is available to members on our website badn.org.uk in the education section.

We have received several emails from dental nurses who have been threatened with removal from the register for failing to log their CPD – for the simple reason that they were not aware of the ‘log 10 hours every subsequent two years’ rule, they thought if they completed 50 hours in the five years that would be okay.

Reason number two

S*** happens! Sometimes, real life just gets in the way. In the last couple of years, BADN have assisted dental nurses who have failed to log their required ’10 hours in two years’ – often just being short by an hour or two – because they had been ill, lost a spouse or parent, had a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Surely common sense requires the GDC to view these as special cases and make allowances for the situation? That would be better than telling these people who are already experiencing difficulties that they are going to be struck off and unable to work!

Why cannot these people make up the missing hours in the next month or two, instead of being put through the additional trauma of being struck off and having to apply for restoration?

It is also worth bearing in mind that registered dental nurses are 99% female (and the whole of dentistry is more than 50% female). Even now in the 21st century, it is an unfortunate truth that women bear the brunt of domestic, familial and household responsibility.

Not only are the majority of working women holding down a job, they also have to feed their families, clean their houses, make sure homework is done, arrange childcare – and possibly take care of elderly parents as well!

Finding time to complete the required CPD is a struggle, let alone log it. Not to mention finding the money for CPD courses in the family budget! What would help here is the GDC requiring employers to give protected time (ie time during the working day, or paid time off – outside annual leave allowance) to complete CPD requirements; and also back BADN’s campaign for HMRC to make CPD costs tax allowable for employees.

Reason number three

The actual certificates submitted – the GDC will only accept CPD certificates which include the registrant’s GDC number, and which of the GDC learning outcomes the course met. This means that registrants often submit what they believe to be the required number of hours, only to find that the GDC discounts one or more certificates – and then threatens them with erasure for not submitting the required number of hours!

Certificates issued by the NHS or HEE are not included – because they run the courses for all healthcare professionals, not just dentistry, and no other regulatory body requires this information on CPD certificates.

So, if you work in a hospital or NHS trust and have to do mandatory CPD, you cannot count these hours towards your GDC requirement because the certificates issued are not acceptable to the GDC. You have to repeat the course with another provider, often having to pay for this in order to have an acceptable certificate.

Reasonable compromise

Another issue with this is that HEE has a wide range of free CPD courses (as dental nurses are often paid minimum wage, free CPD is a boon). But these are not accepted by the GDC because the certificates do not include their special requirements. Understandable if we were talking about certificates from the Mickey Mouse School of Dentistry – but Health Education England?

BADN and HEE have had meetings with the GDC on this very subject – and suggested that perhaps the registrant concerned could add to HEE or NHS certificates themselves their GDC registration number and which GDC learning outcomes the course met in the reflection part of the certificate. A reasonable compromise, you might think?

To reiterate – the GDC is the only regulatory body to require that CPD certificates include the registrant’s GDC registration number and the GDC learning outcomes. All other regulatory healthcare body consider NHS and HEE certificates to be acceptable.

Whilst in the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis, dentistry’s regulator body is striking off – and removing from the workforce –  dental professionals for failing to log an hour or two of CPD, even if they have suffered severe illness, bereavement, trauma. Isn’t it time for common sense to prevail?

Read more about Saving Grace articles here:

Get involved! If you would like to write an article for the campaign, please email [email protected].

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