Stopping the GDC


Michael Watson says somebody has to stop the GDC

Healthcare regulators, including the GDC, need a radical overhaul of how they operate, Michael Watson believes.

Last week the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees the health regulatory authorities, including the General Dental Council (GDC), published a critical report of how professional regulation is carried out in this country.

It said: ‘If regulation was going to improve care, it would have done it by now.

‘So it’s time to improve regulation’.

Radical overhaul

The PSA called for a radical overhaul of the way that bodies such as the GDC operate, if it is to support rather than stand in the way of the serious changes being proposed for our health and care services.

It said that we must ‘understand better what regulation can and can’t do to control the risk of harms, to deregulate in some areas and focus regulation more effectively in others’.

‘We need to remove barriers between professions and create new roles.

‘Health and care regulation is incoherent and expensive and there is little evidence for its effectiveness; if it was going to improve care it would have done so by now.

‘It’s time to rethink regulation.’

The British Dental Association (BDA) called for action; chairman, Mick Armstrong, said too many regulators had lost the confidence of their professions.

He said that the people running them ‘are enjoying power without responsibility, and it’s about time they put patients first.’

GDC confidence

Meanwhile the GDC appears to be in a state of denial.

Its chief executive, Evlynne Gilvarry, said: ‘we can only go so far’ within the current regulations and she called for a change in the law.

Such change could be on the way.

Eighteen months ago the Law Commission, a body charged with proposing changes to the law, produced a long report on all the healthcare regulators, which the Government said it had accepted for the most part, but has been slow to implement.

The GDC obviously sees itself as a handler of patients’ complaints, judging by how often it refers to the number of complaints it receives.

It is not; its function is to set standards and hold to account the small minority of dentists who do not uphold them.

Most complaints should be resolved within the practice and in the last few days the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has reinforced this advice.

The NHS should resolve complaints about dentists who do not adhere properly the terms of their contract.

But as the BDA pointed out last week: ‘GDC chair, Bill Moyes, took up office two years ago and has repeatedly stated his intention to substantially broaden the remit of the regulator well beyond the statutorily defined boundaries.’

Someone has to stop him.


  1. 1

    The GDC could be stopped by a mass refusal to pay the ARF. UK dentists, however, are in general a meekly subservient bunch, who will just ‘whinge’ and plod on – mostly firmly attached to the ‘NHS teat’. It will be a slow and painful demise. I’m only glad I’m not too far from retirement.

  2. 2

    I applaud Michael Watson’s measured inditement of the GDC. Over the past 5 years it has organised itself in a way that precludes proper governance, by appointing individuals to council who appear to be afraid to call rhe executive to account. Appointments to ‘Fitness to Practise’ roles seem to have been similarly affected ….. it is time for a change and Michael Watson has articulated it well …. in addition the BDA is bang on course to demand that ‘someone’ should stop Bill Moyes …. if he had a period of reflection, such as that often demanded for dentists he would stop himself by resigning.

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        Paul was the CDO of Wales, his first language may not be English at all. Fair play if you are this articulate in Welsh my friend.

  3. 5

    Here here a voice of reason quote
    its function is to set standards and hold to account the small minority of dentists who do not uphold them.This is the sole purpose of GDC.If they stuck to there remit there costs would reduce and our ARF. and there reputation among Dentists may well improve.At the moment any GDP can have a case put upon them by any Nhs complaint reaching the GDC. On average the initial proceedings of a case to answer or not is 6-12 months of stress on a GDP whilst this hangs over them do they actually care about us DENTISTS !

  4. 6

    Once again a good article but simply lip service by people who have vested interests.
    The GDC can be stopped by simply refusing to pay the ARF and perhaps holding a strike…but the majority of dentists do not want to do this. Instead they either moan and hope it doesn’t happen to them , or the cleverer ones amongst us reduce clinical time and focus on other interests ….another form of defensive dentistry!
    The often politically correct/newspeak rhetoric spouted by our so called leaders muddles the issues further. Dentistry is in crisis and it’s time we all acted together.

  5. 7

    Does anybody ask why the other comparable European countries don’t have the same problems with the level of quality of care delivered to their patients /citizens and the same degree of litigations or patient complaints or Number of dentists hauled in front of their respective regulatory bodies etc?
    The simple answer is the joke that is called NHS dentistry in its current UDA aka ” nectar point” system.
    No dentist with integrity or intact professionalism can deliver high quality dentistry within this shambolic contract.
    This leads to manipulating the NHS contract by all NHS contract holders. (Anybody who denies this fact is a lair) It is simply not possible to survive financially if you don’t manipulate this system.

  6. 8

    Oh dear. Never mind ‘indictment’….. ‘their’. Not ‘there’. Come on people, I’m not THAT old, but my grammar school did teach a bit of (English) grammar. I despair.

  7. 9

    Right then. Enough of the ‘spelling bee’ etc.
    The GDC is very clearly, in the current parlance, not fit for purpose. Others might say ‘a total crock of XXXX’, as a respected colleague told me at a D$np%an meeting.
    Who gets appointed to the GDC?
    Busybodies, no-hopers, committee place-people.
    It all started going seriously down-hill as soon as those paying for the whole shebang lost a democratic voice in the set-up.
    No taxation without representation as some Colonial or another said.
    The profession has lost all respect for the GDC.
    It is a bloated, out of control ‘monster’.
    It serves nobody. It effectively has no budgetary control. Put an advert in the Telegraph, ‘please complain about your dentist’, then get the dentist to pay for the huge increase in complaints.
    Would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
    As I say, ARF fee strike long overdue.
    The doc would do it, but I’m old and don’t give a monkeys any more!
    What about the young dentists?
    It’s a disgrace.

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    The Regulatory Bodies are being used as a political weapon to challenge clinicians. Lay control of the GDC is unacceptable and is the first step towards deregulation of Dentistry. The Regulatory Bodies are unfit for purpose both in Protecting Patients and in the Regulation of Education and Training as confirmed by data confirms with respect to complaints/ standards. We need to stop believing the hype we have been fed. The NHS has collapsed because of government policy.
    The police have recently recorded a crime of Perverting the Course of Justice against the GMC and this may also come to involve the GDC. This is historic. So there are signs that the probity is at last being questioned.
    The profession needs to set up a peer review body to challenge the GDC

  11. 13

    I agree, Prof. Now if the Faculty (I am a member, incredible as it may seem) were to get really militant, ie seriously challenge the lay control of the GDC (which is a sick joke. Would the lawyers put up with such utter rubbish? Answers on a postcard to ‘David Cameron, 10 Downing St’.), then I would partake of an ARF strike. The doc will even share the model: BDA/RCS produces list of current members. Issues letters saying the members will not re-register with the GDC as it is currently. Letter says if member is prosecuted organisations will immediately all strike. Will this happen? Ha ha ha……

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