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Moving upstream

Delegates from the day share their views on the discussions and the event.        

On Wednesday 12 February we held our Moving upstream conference 2020 in London.

The event proved not only an opportunity for us to highlight key developments from the Moving Upstream Report 2020, but also provided a forum for the professions to come together and discuss some of the key issues facing dental professionals.

 Dr William Moyes, Chair of Council, kicked off the conference by introducing the Moving Upstream Report 2020. He highlighted the commitments we had made under our Shifting the balance work programme, the progress against these and the transition to our new Corporate Strategy 2020-2023.

 The event included the following sessions:

  • Public and patient expectations of professionalism.
  • Becoming a right touch regulator.
  • Future challenges for dentistry.
  • Contributions from delegates.
  • Close from the Chief Executive and Registrar.

Public and patient expectations of professionalism

The first of three panel sessions made up of expert speakers was on the topic of public and patient expectations of professionalism. The panel, facilitated by Professor Jonathan Cowpe from the Association for Dental Education in Europe, included Rachel Lopata, Director of Community Research, Simon Morrow, Council Member at the GDC, Nikki Patel, Chair of the BDA’s Young Dentist Committee and Nishma Sharma, Dental Clinical Fellow for the Chief Dental Officer.

Key discussion points during the session included cultural and generational differences, the line between the professional and personal life, challenges around social media and the differing expectations between the professions and the public.

Becoming a right touch regulator

The second panel on demonstrating commitment to right touch regulation was facilitated by Dr Toby Ganley, Head of Right Touch Regulation at the GDC and included Mark Stobbs, Director of Scrutiny and Quality at the Professionals Standards Authority, Amanda Downing, Head of Policy and Planning at the General Medical Council, Julian Graville, Head of Inspection at the General Pharmaceutical Council and John Makin, Head of the Dental Defence Union.

Key points included the heightened risk of issues arising where there is a profession that has a strong clinical invasive process involving patients that do not know what treatment is required, the need to consider engagement, feedback, learning and support to help meet standards and utilising outreach projects. One of the main challenges flagged by all panel members was the outdated legislation which makes it harder to implement right touch principles.

Future challenges for dentistry

The final panel on the future challenges for dentistry was facilitated by Margie Taylor, the former Chief Dental Officer for Scotland and included Mick Armstrong, Chair of the BDA, Dr Colette Bridgman, Chief Dental Officer for Wales, Vinay Chavda, Topol Fellow and Kirstie Moons, Council Member at the GDC.

Common themes flagged included the anxiety felt by younger dentists and how we can tackle the ‘climate of fear’, how to improve the NHS contract, the importance of self-regulation, keeping up with technological developments and how to better understand all roles within the dental team.

Contributions from delegates

Following the panel sessions, Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy took questions from the floor on the work of the GDC. These included questions on how we were working to improve engagement with dental professionals and whether we could influence reform of the NHS contract. In response, Stefan flagged the high open rate of our digital communications, but admitted that we needed to do more. He also explained that as the NHS contract was part of the system, and if it was causing an issue for patients or dental professionals, then it was of interest. But in the end, the GDC was not responsible for contract reform.     

In the afternoon smaller breakout workshops were held to consider the question: how well does the system in which dental services are provided protect the public? In the feedback session examples of things that worked well were the Care Quality Commission (CQC), professional standards and the existence of the Register. Challenges included the lack of understanding about dentistry from the public, the NHS contract and the lack of support networks for dental professionals. Suggestions for improvement included extending the remit of the CQC, reforming the NHS contract and providing better support for dental professionals.    

In closing from the Chief Executive and Registrar

Ian Brack Chief Executive and Registrar brought the event to close by saying how useful the day had been and highlighting some key points from the day. These included the generational and cultural challenges around professionalism, the role of employers and supervisors in meeting right touch principles and how to tackle the fear of litigation among younger dentists. Ian flagged that, although this would be the final Moving Upstream Report and conference, we do intend to continue to hold an annual event to ensure that these types of important conversations continue.  

You can download the full summary of the Moving upstream conference here.