Change needed to rehabilitate the GDC’s reputation, says dental therapist

Change needed to rehabilitate the GDC's reputation, says dental therapist

Jenna Buttle, a dental therapist based in Kent, explains why the current approach to ARF and CPD deadlines compromises patient care.

I have yet to meet a fellow dental professional who feels that these proposed changes would in any way adversely affect the professional standards the GDC sets. It will, however, be a step in the right direction in rehabilitating the GDC’s reputation amongst its members.

Although I’ve had no personal experience of being de-registered, I think most dental professionals know at least someone who has.

A fellow clinician recently recounted his experience to me, which began when he changed bank accounts. The direct debit to pay his GDC registration was the only one (of six) which did not switch over in time. He immediately received a demand for the full amount of his retention fee or was threatened with de-registration.

Fortunately, he was in a position to pay this but there is concern for a clinician who might not be and would therefore be removed from the register and unable to work. All because of a direct debit failure.

Immediately removing valuable members of the dental team over discrepancies, which could be easily remedied during a two-week grace period, is absolute folly. Not only does it compromise patient care and continuity, but it also puts pressure on the entire dental team when a clinician or nurse is unable to perform their role.

None of this goes any way to convey the feelings of worry and embarrassment I have had described to me from fellow professionals who have been unwittingly caught short in this way.

Less stressful and more bureaucratic

Dental nurses are consistently the largest registrar group but look at it this way – a trainee dental nurse can assist a clinician chairside without being registered with the GDC at all, so what sense is there in forcing a qualified dental nurse onto desk duties for weeks, or even months on end, over a one, two or even three hour CPD discrepancy?

These minor infringements (which more often than not are just honest oversights that as humans we’re all capable of) could all be easily remedied with the short two-week mandatory grace period that is proposing. I was quite surprised that this simple mechanism hasn’t been in place since inception. After all, a utilities company doesn’t immediately switch your electric off when there is an issue with a direct debit! After a little digging, I found that the GDC do in fact have an appeals mechanism already in place.

Outlined on the GDC website: ‘If you need a little more time to complete your CPD at the end of a cycle, you might be able to apply for a grace period, which can give you an additional 56 days.’

However, it would seem that there are no guarantees and it offers little in the way of reassurance. I think the proposal by of an automatic grace period of two weeks for any minor discrepancy of up to three hours CPD would be far less stressful and a more bureaucratic, welcome change to the rules.

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