Research Hub

Scope of Practice review

Scope of Practice review

Our overall aim for the Scope of Practice review is to provide as much flexibility to dental professionals as possible, so they are using their own professional judgement about the provision of care and their own education, development and competencies. We believe that we need to put more trust in dental professionals to use their experience and judgement, and be less prescriptive, and that this will contribute to higher standards of care and professional conduct.

The research, commissioned by the GDC and completed by IFF Research found:

  • The Scope of Practice guidance is not being used in the way that it was originally intended. The primary users of the guidance are education and training providers, employers, and professional representative bodies, less so, dental professionals.
  • Dental professionals reported high levels of awareness and a good understanding of their own scope of practice, which has been gained through education, work and training and development, not through our guidance. Dental professionals also reported low levels of awareness on the scope of others in the dental team. 
  • Members of the public and patients are not aware of the Scope of Practice guidance and do not feel it is relevant or necessary for them to have access to this type of information.
  • The research found significant concerns among dental professionals and stakeholders on the suggestion that there may be substantial changes or if the guidance no longer existed. The reason for this was a fear or concern that others may act out of scope. 

This research forms part of the evidence base being developed to support a review of our Scope of Practice guidance, and we would like to thank all those involved for their active participation in the research.

We will be looking to clarify the purpose of the Scope of Practice guidance, particularly in light of the fact that it is no longer being used in the way it was intended, and is not being used by the public or patients. We will clarify the support needs of dental professionals and what form this support should take. And, once our suite of evidence has been absorbed, we will invite dental professionals to engage with us on these issues and help us shape any future proposals.   

The research findings will also be shared with other competent authorities that are considering new career development pathways and the utilisation of the whole dental team e.g. Health Education England’s Advancing Dental Care programme.

Examining the findings of our research

We held a live online event on 24 September 2020 to examine the findings of our research on the Scope of Practice guidance.

In the event lead researchers from IFF Research took us through the findings, while GDC Policy Manager, Katherine McGirr, provided details of our internal analysis, undertaken to further inform our review of the Scope of Practice guidance.

You can watch a recording of the event on our scope of practice guidance page.

Progress in 2021 

In February 2021, representatives from key stakeholder organisations joined us on virtual workshops to discuss options for updating and modernising our Scope of Practice guidance. Together, we explored the issues practitioners encounter when using the guidance and looked at the potential different options for presenting the scope of practice of the dental team, with a focus on options that will deliver improvements to the current format and content of the guidance. 

Building on the valuable feedback we received, and with an aim of modernising the guidance, in June and August of 2021, we held a series of virtual workshops with dental professionals and stakeholder organisations to help us develop the structure and content for each of the dental professions’ scope of practice.  

Based on the feedback received from the workshops, we made a number of changes to the draft revised SoP guidance before it was presented to the GDC’s Council. In October 2021, the Council approved the draft to go out for a full public consultation. 

In early 2022, we will confirm when the SoP consultation will be launched, taking into account other consultations from both the Department and Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the GDC. This will also take into account when we will be able to introduce the revised SoP guidance. 
We will continue to update this page as we progress with the work. 

Output downloads

Further research outputs


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