Our response to regulatory reform

We have now responded to government proposals to reform the legislation under which we operate. We very much support the ambition to remove outdated and overly prescriptive legislation, and to put in its place a modernised and flexible framework that can respond to change and innovation while enhancing accountability, transparency and public protection. But we think the proposals need to go further, and faster, as our Chair of Council, William Moyes, has set out.

We agree with the Government’s stated objectives for the reformed regulatory framework; that public protection must remain paramount, be fair to professionals, and cost effective. We also know that the rigid and restrictive legislation under which we currently operate limits our ability to respond to changes in dental practice, to operate an effective and efficient regulatory system and, most importantly, to ensure public protection.

More flexibility is required

The pace of change is accelerating and the way in which healthcare services may be delivered by professionals in future is diversifying. The reforms will need to provide sufficient flexibility not just to ensure effective regulation today but also to adapt to future changes.

One of these areas is fitness to practise, where a three-step process has been prescribed for reasons of consistency across professional regulators. We already regulate the entire dental team and therefore in the overwhelming majority of clinical care settings for dentistry, this means there is already a common and consistent approach to professional regulation.

We often hear that fitness to practise cases take too long to resolve, and we agree. This is why we think the new system must be adaptable and responsive, and why we oppose additional review powers that could add more time to the process.

Influencing the regulatory framework

We recognise that this consultation is a once in a generation opportunity to influence the regulatory framework, as explained by our Executive Director, Strategy, Stefan Czerniawski on the publication of the proposals. We have encouraged everybody with an interest in dental regulation to review the proposals and respond to the consultation, because it is important that the Government hears directly from the people and groups these proposals will ultimately affect.

We discussed the proposed reforms with over 100 stakeholders, including bodies representing patients, dental professionals, dental corporate bodies, and indemnifiers. We shared our initial thinking on the regulatory reforms in a series of blog posts on how the proposals may affect the way we are governed, how we quality assure training and education (including potential new fee structures), and the key reforms to fitness to practise processes.

And finally, our Head of Public Policy, Osama Ammar, reflected on the further opportunities available to government, to modernise and enhance public protection in dentistry.

Looking ahead to the future

Outdated legislation has hampered the GDC’s ability to be a fully effective regulator for a considerable time. Progress has been slow and the need for reform increasingly urgent.

We are in no doubt that better regulation and better protection of the public will more rapidly and more effectively be achieved by implementing the regulatory reform proposals contained in this consultation. And while the timetable remains unclear, we continue to urge government to prioritise this long-awaited regulatory reform, ahead of planned reviews of individual healthcare professional regulators.