GDC publishes Shifting the balance

Law & Regulation
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GDC publishes Shifting the balance: consultation responses and next steps

UK dental regulator claims “widespread engagement with vision for reforming dental regulation”.

The UK’s regulator of dental professionals, the General Dental Council (GDC), has published Shifting the balance: The GDC’s response to your views and next steps today (13th December 2017) which it says "marks a significant milestone in its strategy to reform dental regulation". The consultation, Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation, was launched in January this year to encourage debate and invite views on the GDC’s proposals for reforming dental regulation, without the need for legislative change.

A total of 86 responses were received from individual practitioners, professional associations and partners. The regulator gained broad support for the proposals it set out with some key respondents expressing their interest in shaping how the reforms are taken forward.

Alongside this work, the GDC says it “developed a wider understanding from stakeholder roundtables in each of the nations, discussions at conferences, face-to-face meetings and debate with dental professionals and partners via trade press and social media, all of which providing valuable insight for moving forward with the vision, as set out in Shifting the balance”.

The Council admits its proposals are ambitious and will take time to be fully implemented. However, it says, work is well underway on several key areas, including: a comprehensive review of Fitness to Practice processes; developing a clearer understanding of what constitutes ‘seriousness’; improving how complaints are handled locally; and the enhanced sharing of learning outcomes for upstream gains. This work will continue into 2018.

Ian Brack, Chief Executive and Registrar of the GDC, said: “We’re very grateful for the input and feedback we have received in relation to Shifting the balance. Several respondents saw the proposals as ambitious. We agree: for this ambition to be realised, close collaboration with dental professionals and wider stakeholders across the sector will be needed and we look forward to undertaking that shared task in the coming months.”

One key way the GDC sees this collaboration working in practice is through the setting up of a network of leaders from across the dental sector. The regulator says it cannot deliver the vision for a better, fairer and more proportionate system of dental regulation alone, which is why it is calling for broad involvement form the sector to help implement the reforms "for the benefit of patients and the industry as a whole".

The GDC says that Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation sets out its proposals to reform dental regulation. It a statement it says: "It addresses how we will work collaboratively with our partners to develop a model of upstream regulation that involves professionals and their regulator working together in the interests of patient safety and public protection". It sets out four broad areas of the Council's proposals:
• Moving upstream to do more to engage with current and future dental professionals to promote learning within the system and therefore improve the emphasis on patient protection
• Improving first tier complaints resolution
• Working with partners more effectively, such as dental professionals and other regulators
• Refocusing Fitness to Practise to ensure any issues are dealt with by the most appropriate body, so patients’ issues are resolved more effectively.

As proposals develop further details will be released throughout 2018. For more information about Shifting the balance visit