DDU: Urgent ARF Reminder

Law & Regulation
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DDU urges: Remember your GDC ARF and CPD

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) has urged all dental professionals to set up a reminder ahead of the GDC annual retention fee (ARF) due date to prevent their registration accidentally lapsing. A spokesperson explains.

The DDU has noticed members being removed from the register due to administrative problems when paying the ARF, such as direct debit failure. A little over a year ago, the GDC introduced the option to pay the ARF by quarterly instalments, meaning there are more opportunities for problems to occur.

The defence organisation says it is aware of a small but significant number of members who are waiting several weeks to be restored. It is asking the GDC to simplify and speed up the process of re-registration for those affected.

John Makin (top) head of the DDU said: “With patients in some parts of the UK experiencing significant difficulties in accessing dental care, we need as many dental professionals as possible practising.

“Unfortunately, a small but significant number of members have been unable to treat patients after their registration lapsed due to bank errors or missed correspondence.

“The GDC’s own website currently indicates a target of three working weeks, increasing during busy periods. However, we have members waiting for two months or more to be restored. This is hugely disappointing in the current climate.

“It’s our responsibility as dental professionals to ensure we renew our registration, keeping our contact and bank details up to date with the GDC. But it’s also vital that the GDC makes the administrative process as simple and speedy as possible, which is not the case currently.”

In January, the GDC revealed that following the annual renewal process in December, the number of dentists on the UK register remained stable with 42,215 dentists. However, the regulator also explained that 1,079 dentists did not renew their registration, which is 2.56% of those on the register.

John continued: “At the DDU we wish to see the re-registration process simplified. Not only is it extremely stressful for the dental professionals involved, who cannot earn an income while they await restoration, but it means many dental patients are experiencing needless inconvenience and delays.”

The DDU has published the following tips on minimising the risks of registration lapses and steps to take if it happens to you:

• Set up a reminder at the time your ARF is due (annually or quarterly, if you pay by instalments). Check everything is in order for a successful renewal and that each payment has been made successfully.

• Ensure your contact and bank details with the GDC are up to date.

• Try to ensure emails don’t go into spam by adding the relevant address to your contact list and marking past emails as legitimate. Keep an eye on your spam folder around renewal time, just in case.

• Ensure you declare appropriate CPD requirements and that the declaration goes through correctly.

• If your GDC registration lapses, inform your dental defence organisation as soon as possible.

• You will not be able to treat patients until your registration is restored.

A spokesperson for the GDC said: “We thank DDU for drawing attention to this important issue and calling on members of the dental team to fulfil their professional responsibility to complete their registration renewal.

“Our primary purpose is to maintain patient safety and public confidence in dentistry and one of the ways we do this is through maintaining the register of dental professionals who have met the requirements to practise in the UK.

“We communicate extensively with registrants – for example, on up to 15 separate occasions for those approaching the ARF deadline – across email, letter and text message to ensure they are fully aware of the steps they must take to maintain their registration.

“But when those steps are not taken, professionals will ultimately be removed from the register and must then restore registration before they resume practice.”

They added: “The periods following renewal are the busiest of the year for this type of application and this can lead to longer processing times. Delays can also be caused by other issues such as not providing the required information or documentation, or if other concerns are raised with us which need to be resolved before a professional can be restored to the register.”

More advice about paying the ARF and declaring CPD requirements can be found on the DDU website, visit https://www.theddu.com/guidance-and-advice/latest-updates-and-advice/dental-professionals-are-reminded-to-pay-arf-and-declare-cpd