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.