After years of lobbying to become recognised by the GDC (General Dental Council) as the professionals we are, there was great excitement when, in 2008, we finally achieved ‘registered’ status. Recognition and respect for our training, experience, knowledge and loyalty to the profession had finally arrived…or had it?
The GDC has ‘dumped’ us into the dental care professionals (DCPs) group without care or concern for the financial status of the lowly dental nurse. Citing it too difficult to separate the different groups of DCP registrants, surely it would be prudent to have a low income discount as do the GMC (General Medical Council) and GOC (General Optical Council)? However, the GDC has said: 'There were potential risks to the GDC’s finances associated with the adoption of a low income discount.' This, despite its pledge in 2012: 'To review the ARF (annual retention fee) policy to ensure that it reflects the circumstances of GDC registrants.' I, along with many other colleagues, feel the GDC is using us all as cash cows. Contingency funding for the refurbishment of Wimpole Street has just been increased from £300,000 to £942,000 and 20 new staff taken on at an average wage of £32,400.
Excuse me GDC, our fees are to be used to fund protecting the public, not refurbishing your expensive London building, overpaying staff (including paying the fees for the chair’s subscription to the Royal Society of Medicine). Caseworkers are each tasked with a minimum of six cases per month to put through to investigation. With these 20 new staff taken on, this means, as a minimum, 1,440 new cases are being investigated each year.
Confidence in our regulatory body is at an all-time low and with 2,746 less dental nurses on the register between July and August, is it any wonder these nurses have left the profession? What incentive is there to become a dental nurse anymore? I approached the British Association of Dental Nurses asking what it would be doing to support its members, two months later I’m still waiting for a reply. The British Dental Association are, very admirably, standing up to the GDC and standing by the dentist, it’s just a shame no organisation is willing to stand by the dental nurse in the same way.
The GDC is discriminating against the dental nurse and those on a low income, it is abusing the fee paying system the way politicians abused their expenses. For the GDC to advertise a vacancy with them for a person with no knowledge or experience of dentistry and offer a wage that dental nurses can only dream of is a real insult.
There is a need for a regulatory body, for that there is no doubt but one which is run properly with people that have a sense of duty to the public as well as the profession.
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