The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has today published its report on the GDC’s performance for the period 2021/22, which concluded we met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation.
We welcome the PSA’s positive feedback on our fitness to practise decision-making and quality assurance, our increased engagement with stakeholders, and the progress we are making on improving the quality of the EDI data we hold and our analysis of that data.
The PSA found that Standards 11 and 15 were not met, specifically the parts of those standards relating to the respective timely resolution of registration and fitness to practise cases.
We have been concerned this year that our processing of registration applications has not been quick enough and the PSA’s findings for this review period reflect this. The delays were caused primarily by team capacity issues resulting from staff recruitment and retention challenges. These challenges have been resolved and we are working through existing applications as fast as we can.
There has been a long-term issue that GDC fitness to practise cases often take too long to resolve. A great deal of effort and resource has been applied, over the past decade, to addressing the multiple - and changing - causes of this issue. This has shown success in the past - but we have been unable to sustain it, most recently because of the impacts of Covid and the difficulties we have had in recruiting staff.
To address our current challenges, we have made modifications to streamline our processes and try alternative methods of managing the caseload, and we have expanded the size of the casework team. This will make a significant difference but our ability to work efficiently and effectively in fitness to practise continues to be impeded by our outdated and prescriptive legislation. Reform of that legislation now looks unlikely for some years to come, and so we have been placing even greater emphasis on making the small iterative changes that are possible within the current legislation to improve our processes and systems.
GDC Chief Executive and Registrar, Ian Brack, said:
“We welcome the PSA’s recognition of the steps we have taken, and continue to take, to improve our timeliness and agree with their assessment of performance in this review period. Backlogs in fitness to practise can grow quickly but, once established, any steps to address them will take time to yield positive results. The fact that we wrote about these issues and what we were doing to address them over a year ago is indicative of this. Once a backlog develops, timeliness suffers and the existence of the backlog itself makes rectifying timeliness issues all the more challenging.
“We are now beginning to see the benefits of the steps we have taken however, and expect timeliness to improve over the next review period.”
The full performance review report is available to read on the PSA’s website.