GDC launches revalidation consultation

The General Dental Council (GDC) has opened its 12 week consultation into revalidation.

Revalidation will provide, for the very first time, a way of checking that dentists carry on meeting the GDC’s standards after they have joined its registers.

The GDC’s Fitness to Practise proceedings are reactive rather than proactive; they assume that dental professionals meet its standards unless the regulator receives information which suggests otherwise.

This is no longer good enough.

The GDC says: ‘Our research has shown that patients believe and expect that dental professionals’ compliance with standards is already checked by the GDC regularly, and are surprised to discover that this does not happen.

‘The aim of revalidation is to bring reality into line with patient expectations. The GDC plans to introduce revalidation for dentists in 2014.

It adds: ‘Revalidation will make clear the minimum standards that all dentists must meet. It is expected that the majority of dentists will already be meeting these standards and should have no difficulty in revalidating – it will build on the current requirements for continuing professional development. However, the system will provide an opportunity for those in difficulty to identify and tackle any problems before they become serious.’

A standards and evidence framework will set out the standards dentists must meet under the four domains of clinical, management and leadership, communication and professionalism.

The framework will also set out the evidence which will be acceptable to demonstrate compliance with each standard.

Dentists will gather this evidence over five-years, and revalidate at the end of each cycle; We are proposing a three-stage process at the end of each cycle:

• Stage 1 – compliance check, which will apply to all dentists
• Stage 2 – remediation phase, which will provide an opportunity to dentists who do not pass Stage 1 to remedy deficiencies
• Stage 3 – in-depth assessment, which will apply to dentists who fail to demonstrate their compliance at the end of the remediation phase
• Dentists who refuse to engage with the process, or who do but who fail to revalidate, will ultimately be removed from the register, with additional requirements for restoration to the register
• There will be an appeals process.

The consultation
This consultation, which can be found on the GDC’s website, sets out proposals for revalidating dentists.

The proposals aim to avoid over-regulation by making as much use of existing and developing quality systems within dentistry as possible.

Dentists will, in many cases, already be required to show that they are meeting quality standards.

For example, through NHS practice inspections or performance appraisals. The approach is designed so that dentists can meet all our requirements and those of other dental service regulators under one umbrella.

The consultation takes into account the findings of an earlier consultation, research and pilots carried out in 2009.

These pilots focused on the experiences of general dental practitioners (GDPs).

However, the GDC anticipates doing further piloting and consultation with other dentist groups in 2011 and 2012.

Chair of the GDC’s revalidation working group and council member, Denis Toppin says: ‘We are keen to get feedback from a full range of stakeholders including registrants, patients, organisations representing the interests of patients and providers of quality initiatives.

‘We want to make sure we get it right for the dentists we regulate. As a practising general dental practitioner, I want the GDC to keep the extra regulatory burden to a minimum while maximising patient protection. We need you to get involved and have your say on our proposals so that you can help us to get them right and have the confidence of the public and professionals alike.’

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