The LDCs in the Federation have told the General Dental Council (GDC) it must have a better understanding of NHS pressures on dentists. Contradictions between regulatory bodies and duplication in the regulation of dentists and dental practices are placing unacceptable pressure on dentists, in an already dysfunctional NHS system.
We have been in contact with the GDC to highlight specific inconsistencies between NHS and regulatory requirements. It is not good enough for each of the regulators and commissioning organisations simply to focus on their own standards or frameworks for which they are responsible. They must understand that dentists face regulatory pressures from a multitude of different (and sometimes contradictory) angles. Only when regulators can agree to a coordinated way of working, will there be any chance of ensuring that regulation is both effective and efficient. In order to develop such ways of working, they must first develop their understanding of the wider regulatory environment within which professionals are practising.
The slowly developing work of the Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board is critical to the future success of effective and proportionate regulation. To inform this work, and to ensure the GDC begins to think more about the context of delivering dentistry via an NHS system in dire need of improvement, we have been in touch with the GDC about a number of issues, including:
- Lack of clarity on the NHS offer
- Lack of consistency in referral criteria and support from the NHS in these circumstances
- Inconsistency between GDC standards and NHS structural and organisational priorities
- Poor communication by the Department of Health about increasing patient charges, and the impact this has on dentists’ relationships with patients
- Changing messages about dental recalls without supporting public health information from the Department of Health
- Focus on complaints giving the impression that dentistry in the UK is dangerous and of a poor standard
- Inconsistent messages about dental access when there is a capped budget, and the impact this has on dentists and their relationship with patients
- The erosion of clinical autonomy and its impact on accountability
- Duplication of dental registration through the NHS Performers’ List and proposed accreditation schemes
The GDC has been receptive to discussions on these concerns and agree that they should be discussed with partner organisations. The GDC has been clear that Local Dental Committees are key stakeholders and voices of the profession with whom they hoped to engage with more fully in the future. The GDC’s new Director of Strategy, Matthew Hill, will be attending a number of LDC meetings in London throughout the autumn, to learn more from dentists about the current problems and to discuss the GDC’s approach to professional regulation with LDC members.
You can read the full correspondence between the Federation of London LDCs and the GDC below: