How we work with dental professionals

The GDC works extensively with practising dental professionals across many areas of its work to ensure key decisions are taken with the benefit of professional experience and expertise. Here we explore how this works in practice.

Working in education quality assurance

Whether it is in the reviewing of submissions from education providers for new or amended programmes, the reviewing of monitoring responses from education providers or in the taking part in ‘on-the-ground’ inspections of education programmes, dental professionals play a key role in all stages of our education quality assurance process.

Sitting on registration assessment panels

For some dental professionals who qualified outside of the UK, the route to registration requires an individual assessment by a registration assessment panel. The role of the assessment panel is to provide advice and make recommendations to the Registrar as to whether an applicant has the relevant knowledge and skill for entry onto the register. Each panel is made up of three dental professionals, selected for their experience and expertise specifically in relation to the type of applications they are assessing.

In the quality assurance of the Overseas Registration Exam

The Overseas Registration Exam tests the clinical skills and knowledge of dentists who qualified outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Candidates are expected to meet or exceed the standard of a ‘just passed’ UK BDS graduate.

The ORE Advisory Group, which is made up of three dental professionals and two lay people, play a dual role in that they advise the GDC Executive on the content and design of the exams, and quality assure the exams following the submission of the Chief Examiners and supplier reports.

External examiners are registered dentists who attend each sitting of the ORE and provide reports to the ORE Advisory Group to assist in its academic quality assurance function.

As clinical dental advisers

Clinical dental advisers are experienced registered dentists who work predominantly in two stages of the fitness to practise process, providing a crucial clinical perspective:

They sit on the Initial Assessment Discussion Group, which meets every weekday to review new concerns raised, providing clinical input to this earliest stage of the fitness to practise process.

They provide early clinical advice, including the preparation of clinical advisory reports, for fitness to practise cases that have been referred to them as part of our fitness to practise casework.

In addition, they also provide ad-hoc clinical insight to colleagues across the organisation

As fitness to practise case examiners

Case examiners are appointed GDC staff members who take over the case after the casework team have looked into a concern and referred the matter for more in depth consideration. Each case is considered by a pair of case examiners, one lay and one dentist or dental care professional. The case examiners are not asked to decide the facts of the case; instead they consider if there is a real prospect that the allegation in the case could be proved and that, if proven, it would suggest that the registrant's ability to practise as a dental professional may be compromised.

Sitting on fitness to practise hearing panels

​As the UK’s regulator of dental professionals, the GDC has a legal duty to review serious concerns received about registrants’ clinical ability, behaviour or health which could cause significant harm to the public or undermine confidence in the dental professions. The GDC's statutory committees, which determine the outcome of these concerns, are made up from dental professionals and lay people. They can sit as members of Interim Orders, Professional Conduct, Professional Performance, Health or Registration Appeals Committees.

While the GDC organises the committees, those who sit on panels are independent.

Involvement in our governance

The Council is the GDC’s strategic body and is made up of 12 members - six appointed dental professionals and six appointed lay members. Among its duties, it decides policy, sets strategic direction and approves key organisational changes. A large part of the Council’s role is to scrutinise the work of the organisation and hold the Executive team to account for its management of the organisation.

Professional members of Council also sit on the Audit and Risk Committee, the Finance and Performance Committee and the Remuneration Committee.

The Appointments Committee (otherwise known as Statutory Panellists Assurance Committee) was established to oversee the recruitment, training and performance management of members to the GDC’s statutory committees and is an independent committee of Council. It has a membership of four, two of which are dental professionals.

Sitting on Dental Complaints Service panels

When the Dental Complaints Service (DCS) is unable to facilitate the local resolution of a complaint, the final stage of its process involves a panel, which will either broker an agreement or, if that is not possible, ultimately decide how a complaint should be resolved. This panel always includes a dental professional, whose role is to ensure the panel can make decisions with the benefit of professional experience and expertise.