When operating well, the dental team is the key to sustained high quality patient care and alleviating the pressures on individual dental professionals. However, as any leader will confirm, the effort involved in building and supporting a team is huge and requires an understanding of the needs, roles and responsibilities of the individuals and the collective.
To help address this challenge, we have developed, in partnership with our stakeholders, a guide for GDC-registered and non-registered employers, managers, and contractors of dental professionals, to assist them in supporting their dental team.
We have done this as part of our ambition to shift our focus further upstream and contribute to an environment in which professionalism and effective leadership can flourish to benefit the public. Perhaps at one time in our history this guide may have seemed like regulatory scope-creep; we do not regulate employers, after all. But that is why upstream regulation is powerful. By using these softer powers a regulator can promote behaviours that prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and reduce the necessity to use legal or fitness to practise routes after something has gone wrong.
Credibility is key when working through influence as we are doing with this guide, especially as it’s not a mandatory requirement and we want to ensure that dental professionals and the people responsible for the dental team make the positive choice to follow the advice in the guide. For that reason, we have worked closely with dental professionals and their employers, across the four nations, in the development of the new guide. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the wide range of stakeholders who supported the development of the guide over the course of the last year, while they were also responding to the effects of the pandemic. This guide is the product of collaborative work from across the sector and that’s the reason I believe we can all have confidence that it makes sense for dentistry.
With that credibility comes the potentially long-lasting effect of upstream regulation. Although an intervention, like this guide, may originate from a regulator, its success is very dependent on the regulated community choosing to incorporate it into their ways of working. Therefore, if you are a dental professional who wants to support that effort, your first step should be to share the guide across your own team. In doing that you will play a part in helping the advice become part of a common understanding of how to support the dental team, wherever you work.
Unlike the decades long effort to reform the regulatory model, which is being consulted upon now, upstream regulation can be more flexible because it is not enshrined in legislation. If you have feedback on our guide, Supporting the dental team, which you think may help improve it, please do contact us to let us know and we will feed it into the continuing review of the information that we provide to support the dental team provide care to the public.