CPDIan Brack highlights the changes to CPD that will come into force in 2018.

The General Dental Council has, for some time, been concerned that the existing system of continued professional development (CPD) for the dental team is not adequate.

Having a better system for CPD –  with a much clearer emphasis on planning development, reflecting on learning and embedding that learning into current practice –  ties in with the prevention of patient harm element, which was one of the principles set out in Shifting the balance.

CPD is hugely important to the dental team and, whilst the current system requires improvement, we do not want to risk significant disruption to registrants’ work and planning by imposing radical change.

Our intention is therefore to undertake a phased revision, which will enable us to gradually move to the system envisaged in Shifting the balance.

Enhanced CPD

The GDC is therefore preparing to launch the next phase in the development of CPD for dentists and DCPs.

The new phase will encourage and support DCPs to ensure that throughout the lifespan of their career, both their skills are up to date and their knowledge is expansive.

Enhanced CPD (ECPD) will help to ensure that members of the dental team will be better placed to use professional development to help them deliver the standards of the dental team.

It will come into force in 2018, commencing in January for dentists and August for DCPs.

There are a handful of significant changes that registrants will need to be aware of.

This includes the introduction of a personal development plan (PDP).

It will be a tool to help dental professionals identify their own development needs and provides a place for them to outline their plan to fulfil them.

This new phase will require dentists to complete 100 hours of verifiable CPD, with 75 hours for hygienists, dental therapists, clinical dental technicians and orthodontic therapists and 50 hours for dental nurses and dental technicians over a five-year period.

Registrants are also no longer required to submit evidence of general (non-verifiable) CPD.

Other changes include DCPs making an annual declaration of the amount of activity they have completed.

ECPD will support the GDC’s aspiration to create a learning culture where development needs are discussed and planned.

Patient safety

The new system gives dental professionals the chance to reflect on their learning; challenge their thinking; and for any learning to be embedded to improve current practice, which will of course ultimately benefit patients.

Shifting the balance highlighted the importance of prevention and education in regulation.

Our aim is to be proactive in ensuring patient safety through both prevention and education so that harm to patients and therefore fitness to practise cases can be prevented.

When making the decision about this new phase, the GDC listened to the views from a range of sources, some of whom took part in last summer’s pilot scheme, and worked with the profession, partners and other groups to make sure that the new scheme is a meaningful tool.

There will be arrangements for those who are mid-cycle in the current scheme to determine how much activity will be based on that scheme and how much on ECPD, with guidance issued in the autumn.

For more information about Enhanced CPD, please visit the GDC website www.gdc-uk.org/professionals where there are FAQs available to delve into the details of the process.