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GDC: Winning hearts and minds?

12 June 2015

GDC: Winning hearts and minds?

Welcome to this week’s newsletter! This week’s edition comes to you live from King’s Place, as we attend the Clinical Innovations Conference. While it may be a manic couple of days for us here at Smile-on News, delegates are enjoying the latest and most innovative developments within dentistry here at #CIC2015. If you’re popping by, please do say hello to the friendly and good-natured (we promise!) Smile-on News staff as we’ll be on registration and floating around at the conference!

So… another week, another two dentists struck off the register by the General Dental Council. Undoubtedly, they’ve been getting through plenty of FtP cases in the last while. However, the many, many grievances that the profession has with the GDC are certainly hard to argue with.

From the ARF fee hike, to the Telegraph advert, to the performance of their Chief Exec and Chair at the Health Select Committee accountability hearing, the GDC have certainly done little to endear themselves to the profession recently. At the time of the hearing, Mick Armstrong said: “Tellingly we saw no evidence of the regulator’s regret or willingness to engage properly with our profession.”

But… with the GDC professing to be hamstrung by current legislation, can they do anything to restore the profession’s “lost faith” in their regulator? They could point to the increased levels of fitness-to-practice hearings they are getting through. They held 60 FtP hearings for the month of May compared to only 5 for the same month last year. Chief Exec Evlynne Gilvarry may not have had concrete numbers on the backlog at the hearing but they do certainly seem to be making some progress on that front, at least.

Many will point to the large increase in the ARF, as well the now-infamous Telegraph advert, for the increase in FtP hearings being heard by the GDC but for a “broken” regulator, they’re certainly keeping themselves busy.

It will admittedly take a lot to repair the damage already done to a disillusioned profession but, without the legislative changes that seem essential before any real change can be made, could, and should, the GDC do any more?

The FGDP certainly think so. In a recent statement, they commented: “It would certainly appear that the current FtP process is overloaded and unsatisfactory, with widespread reports of unfair and disproportionate judgements following patient complaints.”

The GDC seem to have certainly burnt many of its bridges with the dental profession so to proclaim an increased efficiency in FtP hearings would likely draw much derision from the dental community, as their recent statement rebuking the FGDP did exactly that.

Getting through more FtP processes is indeed welcome, or maybe indeed to be expected given the ARF increase, but it is quite possible that the dental community would welcome more dialogue on the matter, instead of blaming the ongoing issues on a lack of regulation; actually engaging with the profession on these issues and plotting a way forward may be best.

Even if the GDC was to begin improving, however, it may be a long time before the profession views anything they say with anything other than cynicism.

What do you think? Has the GDC learnt its lessons from the past? Can it repair its fractured relationship with the profession? Comment below or send us your thoughts here. Until next time…

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