THE General Dental Council has demonstrated "significant improvement" against the standards of good regulation in the latest annual review by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
The PSA found that the regulator was now meeting 21 of the 24 standards, up from the 15 met in the 2015 review.
The review covers performance in core functions and has confirmed the GDC is now meeting all four standards for 'standards and guidance', all four standards for 'education and training' and all six standards for 'registration'.
It is only in 'fitness to practise' standards that improvement is still needed, with the GDC now meeting seven of the 10 standards; although this represents a significant gain on last year when the regulator had only met two of the standards.
The PSA is still not satisfied with the time it takes for the GDC to review fitness to practise complaints and prioritise serious cases for referral to an interim orders panel (to consider whether registration should be suspended or made subject to conditions while an investigation is ongoing). The PSA also noted a continued failure to fully explain the reasons for particular decisions in some fitness to practise cases, as well as concerns over data protection.
But the PSA report does acknowledge the regulator’s efforts to improve: "The GDC has made clear in this performance review year that it understands that there is considerable work to do for it to resolve the issues that have led to it failing to meet Standards in previous reviews. The GDC has engaged positively with this task and, as a result, has demonstrated that it has made significant progress this year."
Commenting on the PSA report, Ian Brack, Chief Executive of the GDC said: "We have invested significant effort in improving our performance against the standards of good regulation, and that effort is paying off.
"We know that our performance in fitness to practise has struggled in the face of enormous increases in caseload in recent years and we’ve worked very hard to turn that around. And we know there is still much work to be done.
"But if the system of dental regulation is really going to protect patients effectively, be fair to registrants and be cost effective we know that it needs fundamental reform based on strong partnerships and collaboration by all involved, including the profession itself. We can’t count on or wait for legislation to do it all for us.
"We cannot do this alone, and we will be shortly outlining proposals which will set out in detail the further improvements we want to make through our programme of regulatory reform, working with our partners, the profession and patients."