Shifting our emphasis as we work to achieve our strategic aims
The new features of the changing context caused by the COVID-19 pandemic mean we will be shifting our emphasis as we undertake the work to achieve our strategic aims.
Ensuring members of the public are receiving the information they need to be confident in dental care
The public are seeking clarity and reassurance, for example asking for clearer communications about currently available services, or for information that will increase their confidence in visiting a dental practice. During this time we need to place a stronger emphasis on making sure the public receive reassurance and that their requests for clarity are heard by dental professionals and sector leaders. We also need to place greater emphasis on the effects of the pandemic in our planned work to facilitate dialogue between dental professionals and patients.
Playing our part to identify and address the exacerbated effects of inequality on members of the public seeking dental care and dental professionals
We have published a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for 2021-2023. This provides a timely opportunity to consider how the work we already have planned in our Costed Corporate Plan can be used to tackle the effects of inequality and discrimination. For example, our planned review of learning outcomes for pre-registration training is an opportunity to ensure that needs of patients from diverse backgrounds are accounted for in the core requirements for dental professional education.
Highlighting the new pressures on the dental economy and workforce that may affect patient care and ensuring our routes to registration facilitate access to the workforce where it does not compromise public protection
The GDC is not the right organisation to lead on resolving these challenges, but we do have a role to play because of our responsibility to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public.
As the gatekeeper for registration, we need to continue to press for changes to legislation to enable our work to reform routes to registration so that we can simultaneously protect the public and avoid unnecessarily restricting the provision of dental care. And with our overview of the whole sector and growing capability to draw together useful insight, we want to make sure that sector leaders can access the intelligence we collect so they can take action to sustain or evolve the dental economy to meet the needs of patients.
Focus our attention on the changes to dental practice affecting patient safety that have been accelerated or brought about by the pandemic
Our Corporate Strategy already sets out the need to respond to the ways dentistry, like all healthcare practice, is changing to meet the needs of the patient population and from the introduction of new technology. The pandemic means we need to shift the emphasis of that work to the more immediate changes that may occur sooner than previously thought so that we can ensure that the regulatory model remains effective and does not become an inhibitor for safe innovation.
Provide clarity on our leadership role and support cohesive sectoral leadership
GDC’s purpose is to the be the professional regulator for dentistry. Our central objective is public protection.
Regulation should empower dental professionals to rely upon their training and ethical framework to make professional judgements that put the interests of patients first. We need to ensure that, so far as we can within the legislation that we are bound by, our approach to regulation adapts appropriately to the changing environment, acting to protect patients but not to prevent innovation. We also need to ensure that that approach is understood by the professionals we regulate and in particular that they have the confidence to exercise their professional judgement.
Our position as the professional regulator brings with it the ability to influence, to contribute to (and sometimes challenge) developing ideas, and to bring together different voices and interests to address issues of common concern. That has value to the sector as a whole, but also brings specific benefits to GDC: it provides us with a critical set of mechanisms to reinforce the move to upstream regulation; it is also an essential part of how we continue to rebuild our reputation away from the distorted perception that our only interest is in enforcement. So we want to shift our emphasis in our engagement with sector leaders and encourage reflection on subjects where we do not have a direct role but which may affect public safety, health and wellbeing so that a whole system approach to leadership can be developed to build greater resilience in dental service provision on behalf of patients.