The Dentist Magazine.

New plans to be published to improve regulation for patients and dental professionals

Published: 23/01/2017

The General Dental Council (GDC) will shortly outline initiatives to make the current system of regulation better for patients and fairer for dental professionals by shifting the balance of activity onto prevention as part of a series of wide ranging proposals to improve dental regulation.

The plans – expected to be published on January 26 – cover work that is already under way as well as new proposals. They are intended to ensure we are putting patient safety at the heart of everything we do and that the public has confidence in dental services. Making it work will need everyone – the dental profession itself, regulators, educators and the many other organisations and individuals involved – to play their part.

The plans place greater emphasis on supporting and empowering the profession, for example through education and learning. The intention is for the regulatory system to work better to stop things going wrong, rather than reacting after harm has been done.

This will mean changing our relationship with the dental team to one of greater collaboration to achieve common goals such as embedding the standards that promote learning and support dental professionals during their entire career.

It will also mean being clearer about when the GDC will use its formal enforcement powers to manage serious risk to patients. Our aim is to do so only when dental professionals put patients at serious risk or damage public confidence in dentistry.

Bill Moyes, chair of the General Dental Council (GDC), said: “The current model of dental professional regulation has become outdated, cumbersome and inefficient.

“Too much of our activity is focused on responding to harm. While such enforcement action is sometimes necessary, we should focus our efforts on supporting dental professionals to prevent that harm from occurring in the first place.

“By refocusing our efforts and changing the way we do things, we can make the system better for patients and fairer for dental professionals, strengthen public confidence in the profession and minimise the level of enforcement action required by the GDC.

“By providing dental professionals with the information and tools they need to meet and maintain high professional standards, it is hoped the GDC will have a more constructive relationship with the professions which it regulates.”

Ian Brack, chief executive of the GDC, said: “We have been engaging with the profession and stakeholders over the past year and now it is time to deliver professional dental regulation which is fit for the world we live in.

“We absolutely cannot do this alone which is why we are seeking the support and participation from the profession, our partners and patients.

“This is probably our most significant proposal in a generation so I encourage you to respond to our plans when they are published later this month.”

Further proposals include:

  • The need to improve our collection, analysis and use of information, data and intelligence. This will involve working with our partners and the profession to understand what it tells us and what the solutions are to emerging problems for dental professionals.
  • Improving the way we engage with students to ensure they are in the best possible position to begin their career as a registered dental professional.
  • Changing the model in continuing professional development (CPD) to that of providing data, intelligence and information to assist dental professionals determine their own development needs.
  • Working with education providers and stakeholders to ensure that future professionals are well equipped to understand and apply the standards expected of them when they register.


Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation, will be published on January 26.