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Campaigning for better dental regulation: meeting the GDC in Scotland

Blog Author Robert Donald

Blog Date 14/11/2018

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Our campaign to ensure dentists in Scotland get regulation that is effective and efficient, continues. 

Over the summer, we met with the GDC's Council members, and two members of the GDC Executive – Matthew Hill, Executive Director, Strategy and Tom Scott, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise to begin a dialogue on working together to improve dental regulation.

We’ve had a follow-up meeting with Tom Scott, to discuss the GDC’s performance and other issues, and we also invited Tom, and Ian Jackson (Scottish Director, GDC) to visit the dental practice of David McColl, Chair, Scottish Dental Practice Committee, in Govanhill to see first-hand the challenges faced by dentists and their teams in a diverse inner-city practice.  

We raised the issue of the GDC’s Fitness to Practise (FTP) function, and its continued underperformance against the GDC’s KPIs. 

The most recent figures show a slight improvement in some areas, but they are still considerably below targets and in other areas, performance is either static or getting worse. 

For example:

  • Only 18 per cent of cases had a Case Examiner decision within six months of receipt, and while this was better than the previous quarterly figure (13 per cent), it was still significantly below the target of 75 per cent. The GDC say that more recent unpublished figures do continue to show a modest rate of improvement and they are working on this. 
  • Sixty-three per cent of cases went from Case Examiner Referral to Hearing within nine months – lower than the previous period (71 per cent), and below the 80 per cent target
  • Overall case length (Receipt to Final Hearing Outcome) within 15 months was 26 per cent, similar to the 24 per cent reported in the previous period, and still well below the target of 75 per cent.
We also discussed the GDC’s commitment to a more ‘upstream’ approach, and what the GDC is doing around local resolution to ensure that, where possible, performance issues are dealt with locally (at practice or NHS Board level), with only the most serious cases being referred to the GDC.

Tom Scott gave us assurances that the GDC has allocated sufficient resources to deliver the required improvements. We will continue to monitor the situation. 

We urged the GDC to improve its communication with the profession to help achieve a more open culture and improve its reputation among dental teams.

What happens next?

We welcomed the GDC's continued communication and openness, and willingness to discuss our concerns in a constructive and positive way. 

We’ve invited Tom Scott to attend the Scottish Council meeting in March next year, to discuss the GDC’s latest performance and the profession’s views of the regulator.

We plan to continue the dialogue with the GDC, raising dentists' issues and concerns and to work towards a better system of dental regulation and we’ll keep you updated.

Robert Donald, Chair
BDA Scottish Council

BDA Scotland

BDA Scotland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Scotland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, and pay and contracts. Join us