The BDA has expressed its concern about the GDC's approach to the setting of the ARF in future, following the publication of the consultation report and policy today.
Dentist leaders believe it is unacceptable to stop consulting on the level of the ARF and instead only consult on a high level plan every three years. While the GDC has improved its performance in several areas of its regulatory activity, concerns remain about its approach to transparency and accountability.
The BDA remains highly critical about approaches to fee setting and the holding of significant reserves for 2019 – and argues that, until proper transparency and accountability are demonstrated, the profession will lack confidence in how costs are determined and fees are set.
There are other points within this consultation report that are more encouraging; the fact that payments by instalments, a long-term goal of the BDA, will be further considered, the fact that the GDC has recognised that a 'non-practising register' might be a useful vehicle for professional support in the future, and the recognition that cross-subsidy will be addressed for most eventualities.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: "Dentists will have little confidence in plans to base the ARF on a three-year plan without real transparency and accountability. Yes, fees should reflect costs, but colleagues cannot be expected to pay for work that has no support within the profession.
"This profession has been calling for instalments for years, so any progress on that front, however slow, is positive. We need concrete progress towards delivery, and the onus is now on the GDC to prove they are not simply kicking an achievable goal into the long grass.
"No matter what rationale they use, there can be no justification for keeping the ARF at its current high rate. This fee must come down significantly to restore the profession's confidence, and demonstrate that the GDC has actually learned from past mistakes."