The General Dental Council (GDC) is the UK’s regulatory body for dental healthcare professionals, and anybody wanting to work in the industry must be registered with the organisation. Everyone from dentists to hygienists and nurses must be registered with the GDC, so it is important the organisation runs efficiently and smoothly.
However, there have been some concerns voiced about the council, in particular its decision to increase its annual retention fee (ARF), paid by dentists and dental care professionals in order to remain on the GDC’s register each year.
On June 30th, the GDC increased the ARF by 64 per cent, taking it from £576 a year to £945. The organisation said this was necessary due to the fact that the number of complaints against dental healthcare professionals has risen in recent years. However, the British Dental Association (BDA) has disputed this.
In an open letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the BDA explained that complaints have risen across all professions, but only the GDC has increased its retention fee. The letter also explained that the Professional Standards Authority recently produced a report highlighting poor performance from the GDC.
The BDA is concerned that the increase in the GDC’s ARF will not have any effect on its performance, and does not want to see money thrown away into a failing system. As such, the organisation has called for Mr Hunt to initiate an urgent investigation into the competence of the GDC.
The letter, written by the chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee Mick Armstrong, said: “We have no confidence that even with a substantial injection of money the GDC would be capable of improving its performance.
“We are deeply concerned that the GDC is disconnected with the profession it seeks to regulate and ignorant of the real dynamics of the profession. It is the sum of the regulator’s failings that seriously calls its credibility into question.”
These allegations are very serious. The BDA is alleging that the GDC is passing on the costs of its failure to the dentists it regulates by increasing its ARF. If this is found to be the case in an investigation, it could have huge ramifications for dentistry.