A view from the Chair: Setting the ARF, understanding the dental workforce and sharing perspectives from patients and the public

31 October, 2023 by Lord Toby Harris

Agreeing the budget and ARF for 2024

Council has decided that the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) should be reduced for all dental professionals and expects to maintain the new lower level for the next two years. The decision was made at the Council meeting last week following approval of the GDC’s budget for 2024.

While it is certain that the GDC continues to face financial uncertainty and high inflation, the robust planning process has enabled us to increase our capacity to maintain or improve performance as well as reduce the ARF.

We are ready to gather data to improve understanding of the dental workforce

In June I made a commitment to explore whether the GDC could gather data that will help to improve understanding about the dental workforce.

I am very pleased that, following discussions with many external stakeholders, we will be able to ask dental professionals to provide some additional information as part of their renewal process, starting with dentists this year and extending to dental care professionals next year.

As they renew their registration, dental professionals will be asked to answer a very small set of questions on a voluntary basis. All responses will be confidential, and we will ensure no individuals can be identified. We will use the responses to undertake analyses, produce reports and make aggregated data available to external organisations and stakeholders.

By sharing this information, we expect that this workforce data will help the dental sector to understand where dental professionals are working, the nature of their work, whether they are working in NHS or private practice.

Whilst workforce is not part of the GDC’s regulatory remit, patient safety and public confidence in the profession we regulate is. We are doing this as we believe having a better understanding of how dental professionals are working throughout the UK will provide important insights into the issues affecting dental professionals and patients.  It should also mean a better informed debate, and this can only be to the benefit of the sector and the public as a whole.

Exploring the dental sector from the perspective of patients and the public

The Dental Leadership Network is meeting in November to look at the dental sector and the systems within it from the perspective of patients and the public. I am particularly looking forward to this as an opportunity for dental leaders to hear from patient representative groups and gain insight into their experiences of oral healthcare.

Patients and the public have been part of the conversation in previous events exploring supporting the whole dental team and sharing understanding of the different systems in which dental leaders work. However, it is good for the Dental Leadership Network to focus on this and hear from wider stakeholders. Listening to the perspectives of others has always been my watchword.

Departure of the Chief Executive, Ian Brack

Following the recent announcement of the departure of the Chief Executive Ian Brack, I would again like to take the opportunity to say that the Council and I have very much enjoyed working with Ian over the years and are grateful for the significant contribution he has made to the GDC. I am personally grateful to him for helping me to settle into the role after my appointment as Chair. Both I and my colleagues on the Council wish Ian the very best for the future.

I also look forward to working with the GDC’s Interim Chief Executive, Gurvinder Soomal, when he takes up his post in early November. 

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