The General Dental Council (GDC) performs a very important regulatory function in the world of dentistry, making sure only registered professionals can provide any kind of oral health service. This stops unqualified dentists from performing illegal procedures. However, there are many doubts that the regulatory body is capable of doing its job.
Most of these have been raised by the British Dental Association (BDA), which has polled almost 6,000 of its members to find out what they think about the GDC and its ability to regulate the dental profession. The results show a crisis of confidence, as dentists doubt the GDC’s capabilities.
Almost four in five (79 per cent) of the polled BDA members “are not confident that the GDC is regulating dentists effectively”. Common complaints included that the GDC is unfair in the way it treats registrants, which only nine per cent disagreed with.
Only 12 per cent of the BDA survey respondents think the GDC is transparent in its dealings, and less than eight per cent believe it is proportionate in its dealings with registrants. Meanwhile, a massive 77 per cent said they don’t think the GDC is interested in their opinions when it holds a public consultation.
This harsh criticism of the GDC comes at a time when it is proposing an increase in its annual retention fee (ARF) – a charge every dentist must pay in order to remain registered – of 64 per cent. This is much higher than is necessary to keep up with inflation. The ARF hike has become another bone of contention among dentists, with 98 per cent of the BDA disagreeing with it.
“Dentists demand effective regulation,” said Dr Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee. “But what we are getting from the GDC is heavy handedness, inefficiency and the expectation we will pick up the tab for their mismanagement. There is a real crisis of confidence between dentists and their regulator, and it must now be resolved.”