A view from the Chair: Finalising our strategic plans and ensuring that our regulatory activity is fair

07 September, 2022 by Lord Toby Harris

The public consultation about our strategic plans for the next three years closed at midnight yesterday, 6 September. I’m very pleased that we had more than 275 responses representing views from dental professionals, stakeholder organisations, patients and the public. This is more than three times the number of responses on our previous corporate strategy and a sign that we’re reaching a wide range of people.

Now it’s our turn to listen to the responses and understand what they mean for our strategic plans in the ongoing uncertain climate. We’ll communicate the outcome and Council’s decision about the plans and fees in October.

Sharing information about trends over time in our registers

We published the annual Registration Statistics report in August which, for the first time, contained comparison data showing trends over time. This information might be particularly relevant for those organisations with priorities to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

The report also benefitted from having a more complete picture of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data. We encourage people to provide this information to help us improve our services and processes and ensure that any potential discrimination or inequities can be identified and removed.

Almost 92% of dental professionals provided their personal data in 2021 and I thank them for it. 

Ensuring that our regulatory activity is fair

For the first time, our annual fitness to practise report includes a reliable breakdown of cases by EDI characteristics, including ethnicity and other protected characteristics. Again, this is possible thanks to the personal data that’s been provided by dental professionals.

Sharing and understanding this data is part of our commitment to Objective one of our EDI strategy ‘to ensure that our regulatory activity is fair, transparent and accessible to all’.

Broadly, the reports provide comparisons of dental professionals involved in fitness to practise (FTP), to understand if any of the EDI characteristics appear more (or less) than we would expect, when compared with their distribution across the whole registrant population.

However, the data should not be used in isolation to draw conclusions as many other factors may be relevant, such as practice location, size of practice or local demographics.

While we’re in the early stages of understanding what the data is telling us, we are clear that discrimination has no place in regulation and sharing this data for the first time is a sign of our commitment to that.

Progress on international registration reform continues

This week the amendments to the Dentists Act 1984 have been laid before parliament by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). We expect to hear more details of the outcome of their consultation on international registration shortly.

When the legislation is in place it will unlock restrictions on modernising our international registration processes. We will then be able to bring forward proposals to increase the capacity of the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) and, over the longer term, develop a wider range of routes using new powers for international registration. 

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