A view from the Chair: Review of education, consulting on remote hearings and looking ahead to January

06 December, 2023 by Lord Toby Harris

As we are nearing the end of the year, I want to start by acknowledging the commitment and hard work of dental teams across the four nations in delivering oral healthcare, educators who train the future dental team and those who play a vital role in ensuring that the healthcare environment functions. Your job remains challenging and the system remains stretched and I thank you for everything you do. 

I would also like to mention a few things you might have missed in November that are relevant to all stakeholders across the dental sector. 

Assuring standards for dental education and training

The GDC’s role is clear – patient safety and public confidence – and one of the ways we do this is to set the standards for dental education and training and check to ensure those standards are being met by providers. We recently published our review of education for the academic year 2022 to 2023. This includes inspecting 20 programmes across 15 education providers, granting provisional approval to a dental nurse apprenticeship programme, monitoring 31 programmes across BDS, dental hygiene and therapy and orthodontic therapy, and approving all 13 speciality curricula. It is vital work to ensure that education standards are met, and well worth a read.  

Holding hearings remotely

One of the many changes that was driven by the pandemic was to hold hearings remotely via videoconference and 90% of hearings held by the Dental Professionals Hearings Service are held remotely. We have found benefits in remote hearings, such as attendance being more accessible and less subject to travel disruption, and now we are consulting on making a permanent change for hearings to be remote by default – but keeping open the option of hearings being in person when there is a good reason to do so. You can give your views before 15 February. 

The Dental Leadership Network brings the patients’ and public perspective 

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Dental Leadership Network, hearing from patient and public representatives in relation to NHS dentistry and access. I spoke about how the GDC engages patients and the public in our work, through research, involvement in policy development and providing information online. The work pattern data which dentists can provide on a voluntary basis when they renew their registration this month is another example of something the GDC is doing that should have a wider benefit to patients and the public. The data should inform discussions and support better decision-making to improve access to services in the future, and help bring about the changes the profession and patients want and need. I encourage dentists to answer the small number of questions about their work pattern, which has had welcome support from the BDA and Association of Dental Groups. 

You can read a summary of the event online

Exploring new and better ways to provide standards and guidance 

Looking ahead to January, the GDC is holding the second of a series of webinars to find out what dental professionals and stakeholders think is important in providing standards and guidance. In the first round of webinars, we asked about the goals of standards and invited views on how a less prescriptive principles-based model might work. In January, we will share feedback from this and invite external stakeholders to discuss what’s important if the GDC were to propose a new way to provide standards, what should happen first and how we ensure that everyone can access the guidance they need. You can sign up to attend a webinar online


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