In my 22 years of dentistry I have never seen the GDC (General Dental Council) in a more depressing and shambolic state. I am not a negative person, but through this whole time I have been amazed at the lack of proper positive professional direction the organisation has shown. The GDC now has by far the worst possible image it could have for itself amongst the profession.
The problem directly comes, in my opinion, from the reduction of real dentists on the board over the years and too many lay people. This has been a fundamental error.
I would also ask why the board is not populated by world-class clinicians and lecturers/teachers. These are the kind of people the GDC should employ to encourage best practice from the top by inspiring and guiding the profession, not threatening it. The whole mindset is wrong in concept.
The GDC cannot afford to pay to hear the cases
This is hardly a surprise when the GDC chooses to operate in the heart of London, one of the world’s most expensive cities – it’s totally unnecessary. The GDC should move to a cheaper location. There also seems to be many alleged stories about building contracts/lawyers it uses, and the financial accountability and decision making behind this seems suspect. The GDC uses external law firms whose daily rates are very high. If the average fitness to practise cost is £80,000, and average time is four days, it leaves a lot to be desired. It needs to bring in an in-house team and also review its own procedures.
The number of cases reaching fitness to practice hearings is too high and the wrong types
Clearly the process of complaint is wrong where effectively a dentist is put under severe pressure from the off. It would be much better to employ a conciliation officer who can go and meet the dentist and the patient in the event of a complaint and use common sense to defuse the situation. Cases that clearly require further investigations should then do so; the current process is expensive and highly stressful for many dentists. Some have become seriously ill as a result. This would be far cheaper than paying for lawyers in more cases. And local resolution should be given more emphasis.
The early resolution system is not effective
Clearly it’s not effective. Good quality dental professionals should be employed to try to get these situations corrected before they go to the fitness to practise (FTP) panel and lawyers are needed.
Huge backlog of cases
Many cases could have been resolved far more quickly with the above method.
There is not enough representation from the profession on the council
I agree, and this is dire. Dentistry is highly misunderstood by the public and, although some lay people are obviously required, the current proportion is bordering on insanity. Dentistry is a complex profession and only those with real experience of it are in any position to judge situations that often result from various circumstances that lay people cannot appreciate.
The GDC is overstepping fair boundaries wasting registrants’ money, such as with the Daily Telegraph advert
This was completely disgraceful. In fact it has brought the profession into disrepute. Ironically, any dentist taking an advert out that implied other dentists 'were bad and made mistakes' would end up in front of the GDC! We understand it is the GDC's regulatory duty to make people aware of its existence and its services but what about the ad being sensationalist and misleading?
A final point – consider annual retention fees overseas
The costs in other countries should be looked into and compared to the UK, ie how many dentists there are per head and so on. The UK is already far higher compared to other countries, not just in the EU, but further afield too.
For instance in Italy it is 200-300 Euros (where they have over 50,000 dentists), Ireland 200 Euros, in Switzerland it’s less than 100 Euros and in Australia it’s $600. I understand these countries have similar numbers of complaints per head, but do not run the ridiculous overheads that the GDC does. I do not believe a rate negotiation or even a reduction will do. I get to speak to many dentists around the country and it is clear that the profession has completely lost confidence in the GDC in its current form. A change is long overdue.
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