The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has today published its report on our performance for the period 2022/23, which concluded we met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation.
There was positive recognition for our engagement with stakeholders and response to the backlog of applications from overseas dental professionals. We tripled the number of places for Part 1 of the Overseas Registration Exam from this year and we have increased the number of Part 2 sittings from three to four in 2024.
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.
The changes to legislation to register dental professionals who qualify overseas prompted a surge of applications and we recruited a large team of additional people and external associates to process and assess applications, and the backlog is now starting to reduce.
The PSA noted that registration applications for UK-qualified dental professionals showed recent improvement. As an indication of the increased workload, we are on course to register more new dental professionals this year than ever before, with 117,983 professionals on the register (as of 30 September 2023).
There has been a long-term issue that fitness to practise cases often take too long to resolve. We have increased the size of the casework team, streamlined processes, improved guidance to reduce delays and, with support from stakeholders, we are undertaking a pilot to enable single clinical issues to be resolved more quickly, while continuing to effectively maintain public safety and confidence in the dental profession.
These reforms reflect our determination to make improvements to the fitness to practise process where we can, ahead of any potential regulatory reform. It is also hoped that improved timeliness and proportionality will reduce the impact of fitness to practise investigations on the health and wellbeing of those involved.
Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said: “We are making very real improvements to the fitness to practise process. It is disappointing that the effects are not yet visible in the performance data, although this is an inevitable consequence of managing down a backlog of old cases with the measure of timeliness only crystallising at the point of completion. For registration, UK applications are now being processed within the target time and the backlog of international applications is falling steadily as a result of increasing processing capacity.”
The full performance review report is available to read on the PSA’s website.