‘Life can be unpredictable’ – dental therapist calls for GDC changes

Dental therapist Ibrahim Numan discusses why change to GDC regulation is needed to protect the profession and prevent unnecessary registration removals.

We all know how small the ‘dental world’ is. If you do not know someone who has been removed from the register for administrative issues such as late annual retention fee (ARF) payments or being a couple of hours short on their CPD, then I’m sure someone you know does.

Unfortunately for those individuals who are removed, the time scale to get back on the register and back to work, supporting patients and staff, can take a very long time.

When speaking to my colleagues and friends, or hearing of people’s experiences on social media outlets, the main concern seems to be the lack of communication and the time scale being so unpredictable.

The GDC’s CPD system is, in my opinion, fair and achievable. However, we must look at the bigger picture… life can be unpredictable, and circumstances can change.

If we take the current cost-of-living crisis as an example, most dentists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists in the UK are self-employed. Being taken off the GDC register could result in no income for weeks and cause a serious setback in both finances and mental health.

Please join us in advocating for this crucial reform by signing our Saving Grace petition today. More than 1,200 dental professionals have signed so far: www.bit.ly/saving-grace-dentistry.  

Campaigning for change

I think Dentistry’s Saving Grace campaign, which calls for a mandatory grace period following both registration and CPD statement deadlines, is fair and reasonable and would benefit both parties. As mentioned above the procedure to get back on the register is time consuming. As frustrating as this is for us dental professionals, I’m sure the GDC would also benefit from the time saved too.

Home and car insurance contracts, as well as mortgage payments with the bank, all offer a grace period. Banks and insurance companies offer this support because they are aware that life can be unpredictable, and circumstances change.

The Saving Grace campaign offers an opportunity to rectify a mistake and, in my opinion, it will not take away the importance of CPD. If we are caught speeding, we will get a fine and potentially some points on our licence, but first we are offered a speed awareness course. This does not encourage us to speed.

I believe the Saving Grace campaign is similar. We are all aware of the 10-2 rule and as professionals we will aim to complete 10 hours of CPD over two years.

I’m a football fan and if there’s any sport where fans go above and beyond in support, it’s football. I’m not protesting the offside rule and I don’t think it needs to change. Sometimes after being reviewed by VAR, goals are disallowed due to it being offside. Referees can make mistakes; they are only human, and sometimes all that is needed is a little support.

Protecting both patients and staff

Being part of the British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT) council and present on social media, unfortunately I have heard how stressful this can be for staff members. Not knowing when you can return to work when you have bills and a family to support is something that can put an immense amount of pressure on someone.

If an individual must be off work for an extended period of time while waiting to be added back on to the register, this could also impact other members of the dental team due to staff shortages. But this could all be prevented with a grace period.

Additionally, it will prevent the cancelling or rescheduling of patient appointments. A simple change, like Saving Grace, can make a huge difference in patient pathways and ensure clinicians and dental nurses stay on the register and continue helping patients.

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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