BDA and BADN Response to GDC Fee Setting

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BADN cautiously welcomes new GDC fee setting approach

The British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN), the UK’s professional association for dental nurses, today “cautiously welcomed” the announcement by the General Dental Council (GDC) on their new approach to setting the Annual Retention Fee for dental professionals.

BADN President Hazel Coey said “BADN welcome any suggestion that the GDC are moving towards more realistic fees, especially for dental nurses – the lowest paid members of the dental team, the majority of whom are earning only minimum wage – but are not entirely convinced that these new measures will do just that.

“As the professional association for dental nurses in the UK, BADN responded to the GDC consultation on fees, advising that the current ARF for dental nurses is too high for those in low paid, and often part-time, jobs. We urged the GDC to lower the ARF for dental nurses (the current system requires dental nurses to pay the same ARF as hygienists and therapists, who are on much higher salaries), to introduce a lower ARF for all dental professionals working part-time, and to investigate further the possibility of payment by instalments.

“We will continue to represent dental nurses in discussions with the GDC on this, and other, issues relating to dental nurses.”

BDA raises concerns in a more robust response

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.

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.”