Our first Council meeting of 2020 was held in our Wimpole Street offices in London, which gave us the opportunity to see first-hand the new hearing suites opened at the start of this year. This marks the final step in the delivery of our estates strategy following the opening of our operational hub in Birmingham last year. Our hearings suites are now all in-house, allowing us to move out of our rented space in Smithfield, which will result in savings of circa £1.47 million pa.
The first meeting of the year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the performance of the previous year, and it was a great reminder of the significant progress we continued to make in 2019.
We commenced proceedings by reflecting on our discussions on how Council fulfil our role. Having reviewed our performance last year, we have identified a number of changes we want to make to ensure we are more effective regulatory board. We will be developing plans to achieve these improvements over the course of 2020. One area we have already made progress on is to ensure that much more of our Council business is conducted in public rather than closed session. This is a welcome change which, I believe, demonstrates our commitment to being more open and transparent in the way we work.
We also spent time looking at the year ahead with a particular focus on the key projects that we expect to see results from this year.
Our costed corporate plan will be published by the end of January. This is the first time we have taken this approach and we recognise that like all plans, it will need to adapt and will improve over time. While the plan represents a picture of the year ahead, we know we will have to remain flexible and agile, reprioritising where appropriate, particularly as the political landscape changes. However, we have agreed to do this within our overall resource envelope, which is now better defined than ever before.
Next month, on 12 February we will be holding our Moving Upstream conference in London. Last year’s event was a big success, with thoughtful contributions from all professions, across the dental team, generating some excellent discussions. I’m personally looking forward to the discussion on the key opportunities and challenges facing dentistry, which is being led by Margie Taylor, formerly the chief dental officer in Scotland. Our Moving Upstream report will be available before the event, detailing the progress that has been made against the commitments set out in Shifting the balance.
We recognise that there are many things that influence the practice and conduct of those we regulate. Providing guidance to support those who manage dental professionals gives us the opportunity to bring together and promote the latest thinking on a wide range of issues that face the professions. Council received an update on this work which included an overview of the structure and content that we plan to publish later this year. We have worked with a wide range of stakeholders to identify the key issues for inclusion, and this is a great example of the GDC working with the professions to create something that will help us improve patient safety and public confidence. I’d like to thank everybody who has contributed to this work so far.
Finally, we know that the year ahead will provide us with challenges, as well as opportunities to create positive change. We are also aware that we all find ourselves in a time of significant uncertainty, as we prepare to leave the EU and begin a new parliamentary session with a new Government. However, I’m confident that we can all meet these challenges and grasp the opportunities they present by first understanding these issues and working together to find solutions. We look forward to working with as many of you as possible to achieve out ambitious plans.