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Objective 3

30 May, 2024

Making sure that our processes and the decisions we take are fair and consistent and embody the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion

As a professional regulator with public protection as our overarching objective, we need to make sure that the regulatory decisions we take are fair, consistent and free from bias. We have training and guidance for decision makers to help ensure fair and consistent decision making that is free from bias, and processes in place that help us to identify, challenge and learn from questioned decisions.

Like other professional regulators, we have some evidence to suggest some groups are overrepresented in our FtP processes and we continue to try and understand this further. We have recently made improvements to the way we collect EDI data of dental professionals which has improved both the quality and completeness of the data we hold, enabling us to extend and improve the analyses we undertake.


  • Promote fair, equitable, and consistent decision making in FtP processes, addressing any concerns identified and taking necessary actions to tackle them
  • Address allegations of discrimination among the dental team through FtP processes
  • Implement, monitor and evaluate measures to ensure that our regulatory policy making does not unfairly disadvantage any groups.

What we are doing to achieve our priorities 

Supporting and improving FtP decision making  

In 2024 and 2025 we will continue reviewing our suite of FtP decision-making guidance. A principal aim of the review is to provide decision makers with an improved framework that supports fair and consistent decision making. All documents are being reviewed to ensure that they are aligned and consistent and embody the principle of proportionality. 

While we cannot eliminate the possibility of unconscious bias in decision makers, the revised documentation aims to provide a more transparent framework to help reduce it.  

Our FtP quality assurance processes helps us to identify inconsistencies and areas for improvement in our decision making. Our Quality Assurance Group (QAG) and Decision Scrutiny Group (DSG) review certain FtP decisions, taking proportionality and consistency into consideration. While the outputs of this group are not data driven and so do not highlight if any groups with protected characteristics are disproportionately impacted by certain outcomes, they do provide additional scrutiny of case decisions and highlight areas for improvement. For example, in 2023, DSG identified concerns with the way in which the GDC prosecutes cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct – a concern which by its nature impacts certain groups with protected characteristics. This has led to new processes being implemented to improve the management of cases involving allegation of sexual misconduct.

Analysing and monitoring our FtP data to identify overrepresentation 

We are committed to continue to improve our EDI data over time for all types of GDC contacts. We have recently made improvements to the EDI data we collect for those on our register, refreshing our EDI data categories based upon best practice guidelines. We currently have this EDI data complete for 77% of dentists and 87% of dental care professionals and we will look to increase this during each annual renewal period. We will continue to draw on this evidence and use this to inform how we analyse and use that data to inform our regulatory work.

Our EDI data is an important measure to help us understand where there could be issues,, for example overrepresentation of particular groups in FtP, so that we are able to use appropriate research to explore them further. For example, bringing together our FtP and EDI data (as set out in our annual Fitness to Practise statistical reports) shows there is an overrepresentation of overseas qualified professionals in new concerns (although not in serious case outcomes), which suggests that this is a need for the GDC to explore and understand this further.

We understand that aspects of the practice of dentistry may vary across countries and want to ensure all our overseas qualified registrants are well prepared to provide the appropriate care to patients in the four nations of the UK. Since October 2023 we have been inviting overseas qualified registrants to a webinar which we co-present alongside dental professionals. This introduces them to what it means to be part of a regulated profession, working in UK dentistry and how to maintain trust and confidence through professionalism. With this we aim to both equip all members of the dental team with the right tools to embed EDI in their work as well as support them to provide appropriate care to patients and service users.

Embedding and improving how we undertake equality impact assessments

We are required under the Equality Act 2010 to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by or under the Act; advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. As part of this, we ensure that when exercising our public functions and developing policy proposals, we consider the equality and diversity implications. We evidence our assessment of the impact of our proposed actions by carrying out equality impact assessments (EIAs) and ensure that any decision made by our Council is supported by an EIA and an assessment of the impact on our Public Sector Equality Duty. 

In 2023, we carried out internal training to help ensure that all teams are equipped to identify and address disproportionate impacts on any groups, particularly those with protected characteristics, fostering fairness and inclusivity across our regulatory work. Work to improve the way we undertake EIAs will continue into 2024, where we will use the findings of our planned data analyses to feed into, and guide better use of, EDI-related evidence in EIAs. Overall, improving the collection, recording and accessibility of our EDI data will help us enhance our EIAs, which in turn will help us deliver more effective decision making in accordance with our statutory duties under the Equality Act.

Monitoring and responding to legislative developments 

From time to time, significant changes may be proposed or made to our legislative framework, which governs our regulatory model. For example, in recent years the government has consulted on proposals as part of its regulatory reform programme, and this year, the government has committed to legislate for the provisional registration of overseas qualified dentists.  It is important that we respond to government proposals and influence legislative drafting in a way that maximises opportunities for the promotion of EDI across our regulatory functions and outcomes. We always carefully consider the potential direct and indirect impacts of legislative changes on particular groups of individuals, including those with protected characteristics, to ensure that our regulatory framework is developed without disadvantage or inappropriate discrimination against different groups.