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Strategic aim two: Concerns are addressed effectively and proportionately to protect the public and support professional learning

02 February, 2023

Objective: We protect the public because we are part of an effective and accessible system for resolving complaints with only the most serious being dealt with as fitness to practise concerns.  

Trust in dental professionals can be undermined by the actions of a small number of people, but the vast majority of dental professionals are dedicated, highly skilled, compassionate practitioners who work in the interests of their patients and the public. The public expects professions to be regulated and for action to be taken if things go wrong. This builds trust in the professions we regulate and gives the dental team confidence that the things that can bring a profession into disrepute are dealt with. 

When handled well, feedback and complaints drive improvement and foster professionalism in dental care, give the public confidence in professionals and services, and help to restore trust when things have gone wrong.  

Regulation is therefore a benefit to professionals themselves. By addressing fitness to practise concerns and ensuring standards of education and practice are maintained, it underpins the reputation of the profession as a whole and maintains public confidence as well as protecting patients from bad practice.  

Patients and the public must be able to give feedback and make complaints about their dental care. In addition, everyone must be able to raise concerns with us if they think that a dental professional may be putting patients and the public at risk.  

But we also recognise that being involved in the fitness to practise process is often a difficult and stressful experience, whatever the eventual outcome and that other routes will often provide a more rapid and more effective route for resolving issues. 

We have therefore been working to ensure that, as much as possible, feedback and complaints are resolved before they become regulatory concerns.   

The benefits of this approach are that: 

  • patients and the public can reach satisfactory resolutions sooner
  • dental professionals and providers can address issues quickly and effectively without any need for the regulator to become involved
  • the stress of being subject to fitness to practise proceedings can be avoided where patient safety and the wider public interest are being effectively protected by other means, and 
  • we can better manage the costs of our fitness to practise investigations process.  
We will always consider every concern we receive but, through our work to support feedback and complaints processes, we anticipate over time we will receive fewer concerns that could have been resolved earlier. 

However, when we do receive concerns, we will continue to consider them fairly and proportionately to protect the public and their confidence in the dental professions.  

In 2023-2025, we will: 

  • Continue to support patients and the public, through the dental sector, so they can find accurate and useful guidance that explains how to provide feedback and make a complaint about their dental care before raising a concern with us. 
  • Ensure concerns are raised with the GDC because our involvement is required to protect to the public and, wherever possible, have already been considered through feedback and complaints processes.
  • Ensure concerns raised with us are addressed fairly and proportionately using our investigation and enforcement powers.
  • Use the evidence we have been collecting to reassess the restrictions in our legal framework to lessen the impact on the people involved.