Bringing together the whole dental team

07 December, 2022 by Lord Toby Harris

We recently held our first in-person stakeholder event for some time, bringing together around 90 stakeholders from right across the sector – all the professions, education providers, patients, defence organisations, government.

We called the event the Dental Leadership Network to recognise that leadership in dentistry is needed now more than ever, with a stretched system, many patients finding it difficult to access dental services and ongoing economic uncertainty and stress.

Dentistry and its regulation are, of course, complex and there are important issues of widespread concern across the sector – some of which do have implications for the public’s safety and wellbeing.

The GDC has to operate within its regulatory remit. However, our purpose of patient safety and public confidence requires collective leadership and endeavour as some issues extend across the functions of different organisations.

By sharing the insight that we each have and joining the debate on issues that we cannot resolve alone, the Dental Leadership Network might be one way that we can collaborate with others on some of the leadership challenges in the sector.

Widening opportunities to join the GDC’s Council

The GDC is looking to recruit two new registrant members to join our Council in Autumn 2023. I wanted to mention this now to encourage dental professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and experience to think about applying.

We believe that the time requirements of being a Council member may have discouraged dental professionals who are at earlier stages in their careers from applying, so to address this, one of the Council Member appointments will not be expected to initially also sit on the Council’s Committees. This will reduce the time commitment for that Member, and we will provide peer mentoring to support them in developing the required Board skills. 

Applications will be open in January, with appointments made for Autumn 2023. I’d be very happy to talk to any interested candidates to explain more about the roles.

Building understanding and consulting on proposals 

The GDC has two open public consultations at the moment. We’re engaging with stakeholders to seek a broad range of views and I wanted to mention them here too.

We are consulting on proposals to update the learning outcomes and behaviours required for newly qualified dental professionals – and to introduce the term ‘safe practitioner’ to describe them’. We’ve had many very productive sessions with education providers, among other stakeholders, to review the proposals and we expect them to be of interest to other groups too. The consultation is open until 10 January 2023.

We’re also proposing updates to the Interim Orders Committee guidance to ensure consistency in its assessment of and approach to risk. This Committee considers whether steps need to be taken to address immediate and serious risks to patient safety and public confidence while investigations are ongoing.  Its decisions, which can place restrictions on, or even halt, a dental professional’s practise, have an immediate effect. You can review the proposed changes and respond to the consultation by 2 February 2023.

The proposed changes to Interim Orders Committee guidance are part of our work to improve the fitness to practise process where we can, where we’re not restricted by the lack of regulatory reform. We’ve brought together an overview of the improvements we have made and are going to make to the fitness to practise process, to help people to understand the whole picture. While each change is relatively small (although still fairly complex), cumulatively and iteratively they will make people’s experience better.

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