Detailed below are some of the key areas of work progressed or completed and projects implemented in 2021:
Launched payment by instalments option
We launched a payment by instalment option to DCPs in May and dentists in October, allowing them to spread the cost of their retention fee across the year. This option has been taken up by 10% of DCPs and 16% of dentists.
Developed shared understanding of Professionalism
Our Promoting Professionalism programme continued in 2021, with a focus of prevention rather than enforcement. We continued to work with dental professionals and the public to come to a shared understanding of what professionalism means in dentistry.
Achievements in 2021 included designing the draft set of new principles that we will be consulting on in 2022, completing research to understand what professionalism means to patients and dental professionals, completing stakeholder engagement to discuss what professionalism in dentistry looks like, and using this to help shape our work.
Supported the dental team with online resources
In April 2021, we published Supporting the dental team, an online resource for employers, managers, and contractors of dental services. The guide, which was developed with the help of our stakeholders, pulls together useful information from a range of places to support employers and managers of dental professionals, who may not be GDC registrants, to play a significant role in ensuring patients receive high standards of service and care.
Recommenced developing a comprehensive complaints resolution model
Work on developing a comprehensive complaints resolution model recommenced in quarter three of 2021. This project will continue to work with our partners to develop a comprehensive model for the definition and resolution of complaints and concerns about dentistry, across each of the four nations.
Progressed our review of Scope of Practice
We initially consulted key stakeholders on the overall approach for updating the guidance, then held a series of virtual workshops over the summer with stakeholder organisations and dental professionals, across all titles, to develop the structure and content of a revised set of guidance. We aim to consult on this guidance later in 2022.
Commenced work on our new strategy
Work on developing our new Corporate Strategy for 2023 - 2025, commenced in July 2021. To date, the strategy development work has included a series of internal workshops with EMT, Council and staff across the GDC’s directorates. The purpose of these workshops was to understand the strategic context in which we will be working in 2023 - 2025, GDC’s strategic ambitions and priorities, issues which our future strategy may need to incorporate and/or address and possible strategic enablers.
This work will continue throughout 2022 and will include extensive stakeholder engagement and a wider public consultation, which is now open.
Continued to deliver hearings safely and efficiently
With isolation measures continuing in 2021, we continued to hear most of our Fitness to Practise hearings remotely. We also gained more experience and learning from running hybrid hearings. Over the course of the year, we refined our use of video technology and introduced over 50 new panellists to sit on Fitness to Practise hearings. We ran one hearing totalling 33 days, that ended in early 2022, which was held entirely using video technology.
Throughout 2021 we held 682 online hearings (including initial hearings, Practice Committees, Interim Order Committees, and their respective reviews), compared to 11 that were held as hybrid, and one that was held entirely in-person.
Commenced work on the administrative separation of our Hearings function
Work completed in 2021 included confirmation of the new name for this service: the Dental Professionals Hearings Service, stakeholder workshops and public research. This was launched in June 2022.
Introduced a new telephone system
Our ability to deal with telephone inquiries from members of the public and dental professionals when staff were required to work mostly from home was impacted by our previous reliance on an internal, desk-based phone system. We implemented a new telephone system, linked to our internal IT systems, introducing ‘soft phones’ that better supported our employees working from home and the office, enabling them to provide effective telephone help and support to dental professionals, patients and the public.