FGDP(UK) Statement - Care Standards and Fitness To Practise

Care standards and Fitness to Practise - FGDP(UK) statement April 2015

The FGDP(UK) would like to make our members aware of the Faculty’s views regarding the General Dental Council (GDC)’s Fitness to Practise (FtP) process and implications for the regulation of the dental profession.

Like our members, we have witnessed the huge increase in FtP cases at the GDC with a growing sense of alarm. We have a great deal of concern around the way in which dental care standards are interpreted within the context of the GDC’s FtP process, and that this may be leading to inappropriate assessment of registrants’ competencies. It would certainly appear that the current FtP process is overloaded and unsatisfactory, with widespread reports of unfair and disproportionate judgements following patient complaints.

Review of FGDP(UK) standards guidance

Prompted by these reports and other feedback, we began a comprehensive review of FGDP(UK) guidance in September 2014, which expands upon regular reviews and updates to which the Faculty’s standards are subject.

FGDP(UK) standards guidance is valued as an essential resource across the profession. It provides peer-reviewed evidence and expert opinion on key aspects of primary dental care practice, and is referred to by a broad range of stakeholders to assist in defining good care standards, including indemnifiers, expert witnesses and those engaged in practice-based research.  The review of Faculty standards represents an important body of work that seeks to determine how the standards are being interpreted, both by regulators and the profession. We are also assessing our standards to ensure that they continue to assist practitioners in making sound clinical judgements and consistency in patient care. We intend to share widely the outcomes of this review, and will keep members informed of progress.

The FGDP(UK) believes that the GDC’s regulatory processes must account for the fact that dental care involves clinical judgement and widely differing circumstances from patient to patient. We have raised our concerns regarding standards of practice with the GDC, and are seeking clarity on the way that the standards are being applied as part of the FtP process.

We would encourage any member that has knowledge of where Faculty standards guidance have been referenced as part of an FtP investigation to share with us a summary and key evidence. Please email fgdp@rcseng.ac.uk and use ’FtP AND FGDP(UK) STANDARDS’ in the subject title.

Governance at the General Dental Council

The Faculty has also expressed concerns regarding issues with the GDC as the dental regulator, which have been the subject of much discussion and concern within the profession in recent months. The consultation that shaped the annual retention fee (ARF) decision and the events that led to the judicial review initiated by the British Dental Association, point to the need for closer scrutiny of the GDC’s governance processes. We have shared our members’ disappointment at the GDC’s failure to reflect on what may be learned from its handling of these issues, as well as ill-judged communication with respect to the Dental Complaints Service in summer 2014.

The FGDP(UK) believes it is essential that the GDC, like all regulators, is transparent, proportionate and fair in its dealings with the profession. This must include a commitment to ensure that all processes are conducted in a way that is unimpeachable and facilitates full engagement by the profession and stakeholders. In this and other respects, we have found the GDC to be lacking.

We welcomed the Parliamentary Health Select Committee’s Accountability Hearing with the GDC that took place on 11 March 2015, and we would wish to draw the attention of Faculty members to the FGDP(UK)’s submission to this hearing.

The Faculty will continue our work with a broad range of stakeholders to help bring about the changes necessary to ensure patient protection as well as fair and proportionate regulation of the profession.

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