Dental Protection has welcomed the arrival of a long-awaited consultation on reforming the healthcare regulators, but fears reforms to the GDC will not be prioritised in the legislative timetable.
The comments follow the publication of a new consultation – ‘Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public’ – which sets out detailed proposals for legislative changes that will apply to all the regulators. Following the consultation, draft legislation will be bought forward to implement these changes in relation to the GMC, and these will come into force in spring 2022 – but only then will the government bring forward legislation to implement the changes for the other regulators. It has not been decided which regulators will be next to receive legislative reform after the GMC.
Dental Protection is calling on the government to ensure that long overdue reforms to the GDC – particularly to its fitness to practise function – are prioritised, and provide greater clarity on the legislative timetable beyond spring 2022.
Dental director, Raj Rattan, said, “The GDC continues to be governed by the 1984 Dentists Act which, despite several amendments over the years, is outdated. The act requires the GDC to conduct some of its operations in ways that are outmoded and not always in the best interest of patients or professionals.
“Dental Protection has long argued for reforms to the act to enable the regulator to streamline its processes to improve efficiency, reduce the number of investigations into less serious allegations, and to require the GDC to conclude investigations in a timely manner.
“We welcome the arrival of this long-awaited consultation and will be considering the details carefully and providing feedback with the aim of ensuring these reforms lead to tangible improvements for members.
“It will, however, be some time before any legislative changes come into effect for the GDC – even if the GDC was to be next in line after the GMC. This is disappointing.
“We have a real opportunity to improve the GDC’s fitness to practise function, but reform needs to be progressed as a priority. We hope the government will soon provide greater certainty on this, through a more detailed legislative timetable.”