Why the GDC needs a better system with more compassion

Why the GDC needs a better system with more compassion

Dr Nikki Choong explains why she is supporting the Saving Grace campaign and how a change to regulation could make dentistry a better place.

Whilst I haven’t personally been removed from the GDC register, I’ve been incredibly anxious because of it.

You see stories on forums, for example, describing instances where people have been struck off unfairly. I had a direct debit with the GDC to be really organised. I called them several times asking them how to change my direct debit and every time I called them, they would give me a different explanation.

As a result, I was too scared to cancel my direct debit because I knew that if that didn’t go through, I’m off the register. To avoid this, I decided to pay the whole year upfront and then restart my direct debit next year as I’m too worried I’ll be struck off due to an admin error.

I’ve called them several times – they’ve told me to cancel with my bank, but not to do this until a particular date, but then you call again and they give you something completely different. This causes a lot of anxiety, especially as it’s not like I’m trying not to pay.

Please join us in advocating for this crucial reform by signing our Saving Grace petition today. Almost 1,500 dental professionals have signed so far: www.bit.ly/saving-grace-dentistry.   

‘We all make human errors’

It’s a similar story with the CPD. I kept a really good log but sometimes it’s hard to know if you’ve done enough and often won’t know until they get in touch.

As a young dentist, I feel as though there’s a lot of unknown because we haven’t been in the system long enough to understand it fully. But hearing all these scary stories, we know that getting a letter from the GDC can be a terrifying experience.

I genuinely think the GDC does seem to support the profession. Normally, with these types of organisations, you’d want to feel as though they have your back as a clinician. As dental professionals, however, we generally don’t feel like that’s the case.

They seem to happily take our money and then we don’t get much in return. Like everyone else, we do make human errors, we make mistakes – life gets busy and things happen. But they don’t even give you a minor grace period. It’s just ridiculous.

Lose-lose situation

We’re in 2024. Now, there should be some sort of personalised system where they can inform you whether or not you’ve actually paid it. Just like when you go to a dental check-up, and you get a text message or a reminder.

We need dentists, dental hygienists and dental nurses, especially. By just removing them from the list, it has a direct impact. Not only is it stressful to reapply and have loss of income, you have to go through the whole process, all the admin and actually, it’s more admin for the GDC as well. To me, it’s a lose-lose situation.

I think something definitely needs to be done. A grace period would definitely help. I also think there needs to be a better system in place coupled with more compassion and more human understanding. We need to feel like they are taking on board feedback from dental professionals – right now, I just feel like we’re not seeing those results.

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