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Key achievements and work in 2020

14 July, 2021

Over the course of 2020 the pandemic changed the context in which we were working. The statutory functions of the organisation cannot be stopped so we needed to deliver them through remote working wherever possible or at COVID-secure premises where necessary. This required us to carry out unplanned work and activities to ensure we could continue to function effectively.

Amongst the work we completed in 2020, we:

  • created dedicated website content that allowed dental professionals and stakeholders to access the latest COVID-19 information and guidance throughout the pandemic
  • commissioned research and delivered online engagement events to understand the effect of COVID-19 on the public and how they access dental services and on dental professionals and their dental practices
  • developed new procedures and processes that enabled us to hold our fitness to practise hearings remotely, where it was appropriate to do so
  • revised our education quality assurance to enable remote assessments of education providers and worked collaboratively with education providers to ensure that the 2020 cohort of BDS graduates were able to complete their final year of training and were able to graduate. We also set up a regular dental education stakeholder group to bring together education organisations and leaders to better understand the challenges facing dental undergraduates due to the pandemic and the impact that may have on their graduation in 2021
  • reviewed and updated our processes and ways of working to ensure that our staff were able to work effectively from home, where that was possible
  • undertook significant work, following the first national lockdown to ensure our offices in London and Birmingham and our Hearing suites were COVID-secure
  • completed a review of our Corporate Strategy to ensure that it was still relevant in the changing context in which we were regulating
  • brought the Fitness to Practise End-to-End programme to a close in quarter one. This work introduced improved operational processes and team-based working to balance resource capacity across cases, improving our efficiency and reporting in this area
  • implemented registration application fees for people looking to join the register for the first time. This was in line with our commitment to ensure we remove cross-subsidy, where possible, so that the cost of regulation is borne by those most closely associated with that activity
  • completed our work to review and update the support materials for new registrants, with the new materials published in early 2021
  • completed our review of the preparedness of UK-trained dental graduates to register with the GDC and considered whether the expectations of a ‘safe beginner’ were appropriate and understood. The findings from this work will now feed into a thematic review of education that is part of the 2021-2023 CCP, which was approved by Council in October 2020.

There have been a number of projects that we have progressed through 2020 for delivery in 2021. These include the development and publication of Supporting the dental team - a guide for managers and employers which was published in early 2021; a review of all registration communications, which will be complete by the end of Quarter 2 of 2021. We have also prepared for regulatory reform, and this work will be incorporated in our wider Regulatory Reform Programme which is a key deliverable of our Corporate Costed Plan for 2021- 2023.

Unplanned and additional work undertaken in 2020

In addition to the pandemic, there were other factors that changed our priorities in 2020. These were activities that were either not on the initial work plan or were accelerated because of changing priorities.

  • We completed additional significant work around regulatory reform, in anticipation for the government consultation that was eventually published in March 2021.
  • We had to make changes to our rules and processes in response to the end of the transitional period of the UK’s exit from the European Union. This was in addition to the work we had to complete to understand the impact on international registration in the short, medium, and long term. We amended our online applications processes to be live and ready for the initial EU exit changes which came into effect on 1 January 2021. This work will continue through 2021 as we ensure our routes to international registration protect the public but do not unnecessarily restrict the workforce in our new international context outside of the EU arrangements for mutual recognition of qualification.
  • A new project to understand the feasibility of a payment by instalments scheme for Annual Retention Fee (ARF) payments was completed, and although this was something we chose not to introduce in 2020, the outputs from this feasibility work were used to inform the wider payments by instalments evaluation project which was completed in 2021.

Working remotely allowed us to complete projects initially planned for future years, including the ‘Effectiveness review of investigation and advocacy services’, which moved forward and completed in 2020 rather than 2022.

For a more detailed overview, you can download our full Annual Report and Accounts 2020.