Regulatory reform at the GDC

The future regulatory framework is taking shape following the consultation to regulate anaesthesia associates and physician associates

The consultation Regulating anaesthesia associates and physician associates was opened in February 2023, and invited comments on proposals to provide the General Medical Council with the necessary powers to regulate aesthesia associates and physician associates. The consultation closed in May 2023.

The consultation included proposed legislation that was presented as a template for future reform for all healthcare professional regulators, including the GDC. For that reason, we provided a response to the consultation setting out our concerns in detail. That consultation has now closed, and the legislation has been presented to parliament for approval. The Department of Health and Social Care has also published the outcomes of this consultation, which includes responses to the issues raised.

The government previously consulted on the principles and proposals for healthcare regulator reform from March to June 2021. These proposals were set out in Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public. We responded to this consultation in June 2021, and the consultation outcomes were reported in February 2023. 

We have been calling for reform for some years, to unlock the prescriptive and outdated legislation under which we currently operate. Our legislative framework continues to limit our ability to deliver our functions more effectively and with greater efficiency. 

We have welcomed the intent to introduce a flexible and consistent legislative framework, and the template for reform is now starting to take shape, but more work is needed develop legislation that will work for all healthcare professional regulators. 

The proposed template does not yet provide an indication of the approach to issues that are specific to dentistry, and more thought is needed on proposed legislation that will assure regulators that professionals continue to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. We are also still awaiting proposed legislation for the governance and operating framework. We continue to engage with policy makers on these issues, and advise on where the template will need to be adapted to ensure public protection in dentistry is maintained. 

The timetable for reform at the GDC remains uncertain following this round of consultation, but it is at least several years away. We will continue to press for regulatory reform to accelerate, with the support of our stakeholders. 

We do expect further consultation next year.