October brought certainty for dental professionals about the ARF for 2023, once Council had made their decisions about the budget and strategic plan for the next three years.
It’s clear that we’ve challenged our own costs and absorbed inflationary increases where we can, but the economic outlook remains uncertain. As the Chief Executive and Registrar, Ian Brack, said, we may need to increase the level of the fee in future. If this is the case, any increase will, at most, be in line with the rate of inflation at the time, or as a result of other exceptional and unanticipated circumstances.
Setting out proposals for change
Council also reviewed our Corporate Strategy for 2023-25, which will be published in the new year. We also discussed how we can best share our thinking and proposals for some of the larger-scale activities and we have put forward proposals on changes to learning outcomes and behaviour expectations for education and training programmes which lead to registration. Our statutory role in setting standards in dental education is how we ensure that people joining the dental professional registers are of the high standards required. As well as introducing the new terminology of ‘safe practitioner’ to describe newly qualified dental professionals, the proposals are an opportunity for us to listen to your feedback on the clinical and non-clinical requirements that programmes must achieve.
Making improvements in the absence of regulatory reform
We’re continuing to develop proposals to modernise our international registration processes, but the legislation still needs to be in place before we can proceed. Real progress can only start when those Statutory Instruments are in place and the new rules are in operation. Change is still a good way off.
Our assessment is that regulatory reform will not happen for the GDC during the next three years and therefore, our intention is to refocus our efforts in areas where there is greatest potential for improvement within the current legislation.
We are always changing our processes and systems in this way but we want to increase and re-focus this activity. This approach involves a wide range of relatively small revisions so is far more complicated, iterative, and prone to disruption than it would be in the context of legislative reform. But it is the best option open to us to improve our services.
One example of this is a change to the way that admissions made by dental professionals are handled at the preliminary stage of a fitness to practise hearing. The Dental Professionals Hearings Service has introduced the change to reduce the time it takes to complete a substantive hearing. It’s part of a wider programme of work to improve performance in fitness to practise.