The research results show that overall perceptions of the GDC were more negative (58%) than positive (21%) and had worsened amongst the dental team over recent years, while improving slightly amongst dental students and stakeholder representatives. Factors most influential in shaping opinions were the experiences of colleagues and friends (51%) and our response to COVID-19 (45%).

The work also revealed a lack of universal understanding of our responsibilities as the regulator of dental professionals and the wider regulatory environment. We found that significant numbers of dental professionals held the misconception that we are responsible for setting clinical standards in dentistry, and low levels of awareness about our role in setting and assuring standards in dental education.

GDC Chief Executive and Registrar, Ian Brack, said:

“The findings in this report illustrate some of the frustrations felt in the sector and where we can direct our efforts. The pandemic has thrown up new challenges for us all and exposed some historic ones, not least the need for those we regulate to understand our role and our shared responsibilities in ensuring patients are protected, and public confidence is maintained.”  

Reflecting on the findings that dissatisfaction with fitness to practise performance was a significant contributor to negative perceptions, Brack continued:

“I am accountable for performance of the GDC and very clear about what has not gone well and what we’re doing about it. Without regulatory reform, our ability to significantly improve the fitness to practise process is largely limited to making marginal operational improvements and applying more resource to an inefficient system. Nevertheless, I am determined that we will make the improvements we can.”

The results of this research are explored in more depth by Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, who considers the drivers and the need to rebuild relationships in the sector, and John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise, who explains the recent pressures being experienced in fitness to practise and how we are responding to the performance challenge. 

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