THE General Dental Council spent £26.6 million on its fitness to practise function last year, new figures reveal.
The amount represents almost 80 per cent of the regulator’s total spend of £33.9 million in 2013.
Other key expenditure on statutory functions included £3.7 million for maintaining the register, including processing applications, collecting the annual retention fee (ARF) and checking registrants have met CPD requirements.
A further £1.1 million was spent quality assuring 17 providers of dental education and training. A total of £800,000 was spent on the Dental Complaints Service which last year dealt with 1,876 private dentistry complaints.
Overall, the GDC said it raised £31 million from ARF in 2013 but spent £33.9 million. The shortfall was made up by fees received from dentists sitting the overseas registration exam, income from investments and financial reserves.
The spending breakdown was revealed in a consultation document asking dental care professionals for their views on the approach the GDC intends to take when setting the ARF, compulsory for all practising dental care professionals.
It follows a 2013 review of the fee that revealed a lack of clarity in five areas: why the GDC charges fees; the language they use about charging fees, how they spend the money; why they charge different registrant groups different amounts; and the reasons why fees would be increased.
As well as asking for opinions, the consultation document tries to address these five areas. It reveals that the average cost of investigating a complaint last year was £1,100 while the average cost of a case heard was £78,000.
The fitness to practise service investigated 2,990 complaints last year and held around 160 final practice committee hearings. The number of complaints about registrants has increased by 113 per cent since 2010.
The document goes on to show the GDC is considering changing the ARF’s name to the “practising fee”.
It also clarifies that each registrant group is currently charged according to how much the GDC spends on regulating them, rather than on the income or circumstances of individual registrants. The ARF would only increase, the GDC added, if the cost of regulation increases. This would most likely follow an increase in fitness to practise complaints. Recent efficiency savings have helped the regulator keep ARF costs down in the face of rising complaints.
The consultation is open until June 4, 2014. Find out more here