GDC faces judicial review as ARF decision approaches

THE British Dental Association has initiated judicial review proceedings against the GDC for "failing to provide clear evidence" to justify a proposed 64 per cent rise in its Annual Retention Fee (ARF).

The BDA claims the GDC has not provided sufficient details of the policy and business case supporting the fee hike – thus "rendering the regulator’s case unlawful".

Mick Armstrong, Chair of the Principal Executive Committee of the British Dental Association, said: "We are determined to fight for fair fees and decent regulation. We have given the General Dental Council every opportunity to demonstrate they have built a reasoned, evidenced and lawful case for this fee hike. They have chosen not to respond, and now we will leave it to the courts to decide."

A consultation on the proposed ARF rise closed on 4 September and the GDC has been considering the findings. The GDC Council will meet on 30 October to look at forecasts and budget projections for 2015-2017 – which have been reviewed by the auditor KPMG – and will be asked to consider options for the 2015 ARF based on three financial models. All three models involve significant fee rises for dentists but two would result in fee reductions for dental care professionals (DCPs).

GDC Chief Executive and Registrar, Evlynne Gilvarry said: "The Council’s decision will be about ensuring we have the resources in place to be sustainable and responsive as a regulator of the dental profession in the future.

"There has been no increase in the ARF for four years. However, since 2011, we have seen a 110% rise in complaints since 2011 and the fact that we are having to work within an outdated statutory framework mean that the options on the table must include a significant rise in the ARF for dentists, albeit alongside a very moderate increase, or even a reduction, for dental care professionals.

"A key aim also is to ensure a prudent level of reserves for an organisation of our scale and remit.

"The Council will also be publishing a full response to the consultation, picking up on key issues of regulation that were keenly debated by the dental profession throughout the summer."

The full set of papers being considered by the GDC Council can be found on the GDC website.