With one week to go before the end of the DHSC fitness to practise reform consultation, the GDC looks at opportunities and challenges presented for dentistry.

General Dental Council (GDC) Head of Public Policy, Osama Ammar, wrote that the extent of the consultation makes “it difficult to see the wood from the trees” which requires the GDC “to take a step back and reflect on what we think the overall reforms need to achieve to ensure our regulatory framework supports the provision of safe, effective oral healthcare.”

“We welcome much of what is being proposed, but there are some areas where we think more thought is needed.”

He said there is a risk that some of the rigidity of the current system gets carried forward into the new one. For example, the proposed three-stage process for investigating fitness to practise concerns has some real attractions. However, “the proposals provide a single model for all healthcare regulators that could be difficult to adjust for issues specific to particular groups of professionals and their patients, or for new models of healthcare delivery that cannot be predicted.”

Speaking about the proposal that all regulators should have the same set of offences relating to the misuse of titles to ensure that all healthcare professionals have the same level of protection, he continued “We do not think this change is necessary and may weaken public protection as offences become more difficult to prosecute. This is an example of where features of dentistry may have been overlooked in the drive for consistency.”

Finally on the issue of specialists lists, he said “there will be opportunities to do things differently” saying “have started thinking about how these proposals combine with those for more flexibility in quality assurance of education and training, particularly specialties, and how annotations could support drawing more on the skills and qualifications of the whole dental team.”

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