GDC disappointed at pace of regulation reforms

17 February, 2023

Steps towards reform to the legislation that underpins the UK’s health and care professional regulators have been taken today, as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) sets out the direction for future reforms. We welcome this important milestone but are extremely disappointed by the timetable.

The Government first consulted on reforms to healthcare professional regulation back in 2017, and again in 2021 setting out proposals for a new consistent and modernised framework. The consultation outcomes released today recognise the need to update legislation that has not been significantly reformed for decades, but set out an approach which means the GDC will not see full reform of its legalisation for years to come.

We have long pushed for a flexible and modernised regulatory framework and is good to see that progress now being made, but we are frustrated by the absence of any clear timetable for reform.

Alongside the 2021 consultation results, the DHSC has today released proposals for regulations for the General Medical Council (GMC) that will apply to physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs). These will be considered as a template for future reform for other regulators, including the GDC.

We urge our stakeholders to review the outcomes to the 2021 consultation, and to consider the proposed framework for the two new associate titles to be regulated by the GMC. While it may be challenging to see how the proposals will apply to dentistry, close examination and views from stakeholders will help to shape future reform programme proposals for the GDC.

In the absence of proposals for wider reforms, we will be focused on changes to the international registration process and making performance improvements in fitness to practise, as set out in our Corporate Strategy 2023–2025.

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy, said:

“We welcome the publication of the Government’s proposals for the next steps in regulatory reform. But we are extremely disappointed by the timetable set out by DHSC, as fundamental reform of our legislation still appears to be years away at best. The current legislative framework is a real barrier to efficient, effective and proportionate regulation and the need for reform is urgent.

"We think the reform programme needs to go faster, in the interests of the public and patients, and of the dental professionals we regulate.”