The DDU welcomes the GDC’s stated intent to make regulation fairer for dental professionals, but says care must be taken to ensure the regulator’s remit is understood and adhered to.
Responding to the GDC’s discussion document, Shifting the Balance, John Makin, head of the DDU, said, “We agree with the GDC’s assertion that all stakeholders can play their part in reducing the seemingly inexorable growth in the number of complaints to the regulator. It is in nobody’s interests for complaints to be made to the GDC that would be better dealt with more effectively and promptly elsewhere, for example, via the practice’s own complaints procedure.
“It is fundamentally important that the GDC’s fitness to practise procedures are seen to provide patient protection and the public has confidence in them. However, if the GDC is to regain the confidence of the profession, the starting point, when refocussing its approach to fitness to practise, must be for the GDC to prove it fully understands and is applying its own rules proportionately and reasonably. It should demonstrate this to registrants and to the public.
“The GDC needs to manage patients’ expectations more actively by clarifying the limits of its role as a regulator of healthcare professionals, including the thresholds for fitness to practise investigations. This should help complainants to understand that, on many occasions, the GDC is not the appropriate place for their concern, especially if they have not tried one of the other organisations that may be able to help them. The GDC will need to provide clearer signposting to help direct complaints to individuals or organisations that can better help patients to achieve what they are seeking within an acceptable timeframe.
“We will continue to work with the GDC to ensure its refocussed approach leads to a more proportionate, fairer and less stressful fitness to practise procedure, which will benefit dental professionals and patients.”