The whole board at the GDC should resign


Michael Watson believes the GDC’s grilling in the House of Lords recently was particularly damning

Bill Moyes and the GDC should be held to account by the profession in an annual meeting, Michael Watson says.

Last week in the House of Lords, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath made a withering attack on the General Dental Council (GDC).

He saw ‘a culture of utter complacency within the GDC’, with no one on the ‘board’ prepared to ‘take responsibility’ for a culture that has clearly lasted a good many years.

He said that following the damning report by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) he would have expected the entire board of the GDC to resign.

He had read the report with ‘considerable disquiet’; he did not think he had ‘ever seen a report relating to a statutory regulator quite like it’.

The House of Lords is not given to wild rhetoric, so such a statement coming from Lord Hunt who spent most of his working life in the NHS and has been a health minister is very damning.

GDC inadequacies

Lord Hunt had been well briefed by the British Dental Association about the inadequacies of the GDC.

He concluded that he was doubtful of putting any order through in relation to the GDC ‘unless we were absolutely certain that it is able to carry out its job properly’.

Replying, ministers said that Lord Hunt’s criticism that the GDC was not a fit organisation was a ‘much more profound worry’ than any discussions on case examiners.

The following day the order was discussed in the Commons and the minister, Ben Gummer MP, said he too was worried about the GDC’s performance and said he would discuss this with the GDC.

But is this the best he can do?

Apparently so, he confessed that the GDC was independent and he was powerless to dictate the level of the retention fees for example.

Bill Moyes

This comes in a week when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was criticised for the £130 million paid in tax by Google, but said it was a matter between the company and HMRC and he couldn’t intervene.

It is nearly 20 years since Gordon Brown gave the Bank of England independence over setting interest rates and more recently when Andrew Lansley handed over the running of the health service to NHS England.

In these two cases both Mark Carney and Simon Stevens are doing their job well, but what happens when you have someone like Bill Moyes, chair of the GDC, who from all sides is condemned for doing a bad job.

He can have what in the military is known as an ‘interview without coffee’.

He may even be persuaded to ‘consider his position’ and then receive a fat redundancy cheque courtesy of the registrants he has abused.

If the GDC were a company, the chairman, chief executive and board would be held to account by the shareholders at its annual meeting.

So in the interests of accountability let us have an annual meeting of registrants, which can hold Mr Moyes to account for the way he spends their money.


  1. 1

    I’ve been publically blogging these exact points for years. Of course HMG could really sort-out the GDC clowns if they wanted to, by legislation if necessary (first reading of the government bill ‘abolishment of the GDC’) etc. So don’t fall for the ‘independence’ smokescreen. Failing that, the long-overdue ARF strike will just have to be carried-out. Over to you, BDA.

  2. 2

    Abolishing the GDC is only act that is required. The GDC is a Kangaroo Court. The way the world is now registrants have a lot to loose, one mistake and your livelihood is over. The Defence Unions are no better either as they cannot guarantee assistance. The Defence Union s are not accountable either. The GDC process is harsher than the civil and criminal court systems , in fact registrants are better protected in these systems than in the GDC ftp process. Currently no one in the GDC is accountable and as said in the article if the GDC was a company the board would have been sacked.

    The only solution is the abolition of the whole system, GDC and Defence Unions. The statutory system should be used , with High Ct Judge and a jury of registrants (special component). The legislators should allow insurance companies to be used in the same as it is mandatory to have car insurance – guaranteed assistance.

    The system is a shambles. I am so dismayed I have advised A level students not to train as dentists given persecution they face when they graduate by the current regulatory system and the complete absence of guaranteed protection. .

  3. 3

    During the council appointment process individuals are allegedly selected, amongst other skills, for their ability to work as a board and challenge the executive.
    Members of council, including both registrant and the ‘professional’ lay members have stayed strangely silent in a show of ‘cabinet irresponsibility’. I am unaware that any meaningful challenge happened; the council should stand down and people, unwilling to be bullied by a chairman or CEO, appointed in their place.
    In my opinion it would be advisable not to use GatenbySanderson for this process or appoint any lay member who who is on another regulatory or similar bodies.

  4. 4

    If the GDC is not fit for purpose in my opinion, all FTP hearings will have to be reviewed and revised as necessary.

    If the PSA believes there has been a breach of duty of candour this needs to be referred by the PSA to the police and on to the CPS.

    This is the way to sort this problem out.

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