Reforming fitness to practise should be top priority for GDC

NEARLY two-thirds of dentists believe that making fitness to practise procedures more fit for purpose should be the number one priority for the GDC, according to a survey undertaken by the BDA.

These findings form part of the BDA’s response to the recent Shifting the Balance document, setting out proposals to reform the GDC.

Nearly 2,300 dentists took part in the BDA survey which found that 71 per cent wanted to see fitness to practise procedures made more fit for purpose as the main priority. A fifth of respondents (19 per cent) put the GDC’s signature concept of ‘upstreaming’ – focusing on reducing the likelihood of harm arising in the first place – as a top priority. Ideas involving expansion of the regulator’s remit and activities all scored low as priorities.

The survey also revealed the profession appears open-minded about Ministerial plans to merge health regulators. Two-thirds of respondents said they would support a dedicated dental regulator, but a similar proportion would back amalgamation if greater efficiencies could be achieved.

The BDA states that “significant concerns” were revealed over the Dental Complaints Service (DCS) from those with direct experience of the service and there was support for moving complaint handling away from the regulator - with only 13 per cent of respondents supporting the GDC’s continuing role in this area.

The survey found that confidence among dentists in the GDC’s ability to deliver on its reform agenda remains low, with 87 per cent of respondents to the survey neither "confident" nor "very confident" in the Council.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “Dentists want a watchdog that can get the basics right, and that has to start with fitness to practise. Talk of expanded remits and ‘State of the Nation’ reports are the wrong priorities when the GDC cannot deliver on the fundamentals.

“Colleagues appear open-minded about upstreaming. There is a place for blue-sky thinking in regulation and we recognise that fixing things before they get to the regulator makes sense for patients and practitioners alike. But it is the view of this profession that the GDC’s core statutory responsibilities must come first."