The British Dental Association (BDA), initiated judicial review proceedings to prevent the regulator implementing a staggering £15 million pound increase to the fees levied on the dental profession.
The consultation behind the fee rise has been deemed unlawful, but the judge declined to reverse the fee rise, their counsel citing the risk of ‘administrative chaos’ at the GDC.
The troubled regulator has been taken to task by the Professional Standards Authority and parliament.
In a parliamentary debate, health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, confirmed that he had ‘not been presented with compelling evidence to justify the increase’ and called on the GDC to make ‘significant improvements.’
Sir Paul Beresford MP, who called the debate, accused the regulator of operating a ‘bunker mentality’.
The dentists’ union was awarded costs, and has now called on government to act on inadequate health regulation.
Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, said: ‘We regret that it came to this, but there was so much more at stake here than just fees.
‘We’ve seen patients and practitioners left in limbo for over 18 months when complaints are raised, and hearings with an average price tag of £78,000.
‘We had to take action because health professionals should not have to subsidise failure of their regulator.
‘Today a judge singled out a “gaping hole” in the GDC’s arguments.
‘The regulator demonstrated it wasn’t clear on its own powers and claimed it was facing “administrative chaos”.
‘And that utter confusion has allowed it to escape the full weight of the law.
‘This super-sized fee rise still stands, and now serves as a monument to the failures of health regulation.
‘This case has revealed that a regulator, unaccountable to the Government, can be found to have acted unlawfully but still walk away with its ill-gotten gains.
‘We are now looking to the government to act.
‘The chaos at the GDC serves as a warning to all healthcare professionals.
‘The Prime Minister once called for action on the “outdated and inflexible” laws applied by our regulators.
‘It’s time for the government to honour that pledge, in full.’
The BDA has written to the Department of Health to outline the worrying implications of this case.