Council member recruitment: the important role lay members play in helping shape how the profession is regulated

09 January, 2024 by Ilona Blue

Ilona Blue, Lay Council Member

Who is the General Dental Council?

As you may not have heard of the General Dental Council (GDC) before (I know I hadn’t when I first applied to be a lay member), I thought I’d provide an overview of who the GDC is first.

The GDC is the UK-wide regulator of over 119, 000 members of the dental team. We are different to other healthcare regulators as we regulate the whole dental team. This includes dentists, dental nurses, dental therapists, dental hygienist, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians, and orthodontic therapists.

And as the regulator, the GDC has a crucial role in ensuring that the public are protected and have confidence in the dental professionals that we regulate. These professionals in turn play a vital role in the wider healthcare system, seeing millions of patients every year, to support good oral and dental health.

What I get from being a lay Council member

In 2021, when I applied to join the GDC as a lay Council member I did so because of a strong belief in the positive influence effective regulation can have in driving good health outcomes for the public.  For most members of the public, health-professional regulation is something we are seldom aware of, quietly keeping us safe by ensuring proportionate controls over who can provide health services in the UK.  And in a minority of cases, when things go wrong, effective regulation is vital to protect the public and ensure learning.

As a lay Council member, I bring my experience of public service, governance and financial management to help drive improvements in our planning and delivery. I arrived with very little detailed knowledge of the world of dentistry, beyond my own annual check-up, so it has been a great opportunity to learn, particularly from the registrant Council members who are also dental professionals.  The combination of lay and registrant members creates really diverse thinking – and we recognise the value each other can bring. 

What does being a member of the Council involve?

Council members’ roles are similar to those of non-executive directors in other organisations: I prepare for and attend Council meetings, reading the papers beforehand and highlighting any queries or concerns that I want to delve into either ahead of or during the meetings. I’m also a member of the Finance and Performance Committee, which meets regularly throughout the year and has a particular focus on scrutinising the GDC’s costed corporate plan.  Beyond formal meetings, there are opportunities to spend time with teams in the GDC to understand the business in more detail and share learning, support the executive team to work through specific issues and attend the occasional informal meeting, industry event or conference. Perhaps the key things about being a lay Council member include, having an enquiring mind, asking ourselves what the public would think and then making collective decisions in Council to do the right thing.

I thought the world of regulation might be a bit stuffy and dry, but it doesn’t feel that way because I have found the GDC to be filled with enthusiastic, motivated people very focused on doing their best for the public. We’re navigating emerging policy developments, overcoming significant operational challenges, balancing our statutory duties as a regulator with our desire to be a good employer, and protecting the public while acting fairly towards those registered with us. This is all tricky stuff and it’s an honour to be part of the GDC, challenging and supporting the executive team to deliver to best effect in such a testing environment.

What to do if you are interested

If you are currently considering applying for the role of Council member, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It’s a great opportunity to work with an interesting and diverse group of people.

The application process closes at noon on Friday 2 February.  You can find out more information about the role, including how to apply, on our recruitment partner’s website

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