General Dental Council Annual Report and Accounts
I am pleased to share the GDC’s 2016 annual report and accounts, which has been published today.
The environment in which we operate is experiencing an extended period of change and uncertainty and this is of course is reflected in many areas of healthcare. Dentistry does not exist in a vacuum, and while members of the dental team work hard to deliver the best possible care for their patients, they are also wrestling with other issues and facing broader challenges.
Health professionals are trying to meet the changing needs of patients, in the context of tight resources. The question of how health and care professionals deliver the best care that is in patients’ best interests, to populations that are increasingly frail with multiple, complex conditions is largely unresolved.
While legislative change can facilitate reform, we know we cannot rely on parliamentary time alone, and therefore it is important to make significant improvements working within the existing legislative framework. As it is demonstrated in our 2016 annual report, this is exactly what the GDC has started and continues to do.
The vision we have set out in Shifting the Balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation involves focusing a greater proportion of resources ‘upstream’ to prevent harm, working in collaboration with patients, dental professionals and our partners and re-focusing fitness to practise to respond to issues that are truly ‘serious’. We are working hard to make the system as fair, proportionate, efficient and patient focused as possible.
This work continues apace in 2017. This includes an end-to-end review of our entire fitness to practise process to drive further improvements, and an online tool for the “self-filtering” of complaints to ensure the most appropriate body is dealing with concerns about dental care.
Looking back to our achievements last year, we introduced Case Examiners who have the power to issue undertakings, meaning the GDC will be able to agree the steps that need to be taken to bring the professional’s practice up to the required standard, improving our ability to regulate in a proportionate way and bring benefits to patients and dental professionals.
By working with the NHS in England, the GDC also established an improved mechanism for dealing with patient concerns that cannot be appropriately dealt with using the GDC’s fitness to practise powers. NHS Concerns encourages more local resolution between the dental professional and the patient. Each year, the GDC receives hundreds of concerns that could be resolved locally, which we now seek to reroute to the local NHS, enabling them to be dealt with more appropriately.
Although we recognise that there is more to be done, we are pleased with the journey that is demonstrated in 2016’s annual report and accounts. We look forward to our continued work with you, our stakeholders, in achieving a more proportionate model of dental regulation that helps us to better fulfil our statutory role of protecting patients and helping to ensure the public have confidence in dental services.
Chief Executive Officer and Registrar
General Dental Council