At one point in the last few years, the GDC was named the second worst performing healthcare regulator. Then there was the issue of the hike in the Annual Retention Fee and the British Dental Association’s Judicial Review, accusing the GDC of a lack of consultation ahead of the ARF increase. By the end of 2014, things were not looking good for the GDC.
In March of last year, GDC Chairman, Bill Moyes and the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Evlynne Gilvarry appeared before an accountability hearing at the House of Commons Select Health Committee.
Judging by the questions asked by MPs who sit on the committee, it must have been a very uncomfortable session. The account of the hearing can be read here.
The issues that came up included:
– the GDC had lost the confidence of the dental profession
– there were no dentists employed by the regulator
– the annual retention fee was being increased by 55%
– there was a backlog of cases waiting to go through Fitness to Practise
– the GDC’s communications
– the GDC’s response to the Judicial Review
– the GDC’s spending on advertising to encourage complaints
It all seemed very damning. To be fair, the improvements that appear to be emerging now were probably already being set in at that time. To my mind, a more apologetic response to the judicial review, which found that the GDC should have consulted better, would have gone down well in the profession.
Instead, the new approach has taken some time to emerge. Now, finally, there are signs of improved efficiency as well as a desire to work with the dental profession. Jonathan Green, the head of Fitness to Practise, is regularly speaking at dental events. He is even on Twitter. I applaud his desire to make himself accessible.
But the most impressive sign of a change of attitude by the GDC is that it has been working with the Samaritans in order to help dental registrants who are finding it difficult to go through the Fitness to Practise process. Now the team who look after this aspect of the GDC’s work are trained to identify professionals who are under stress.
They are also reviewing how they write to registrants when there is a complaint against them. From all directions, there is more respect and more compassion. And I suspect that these sentiments will be reciprocated.
Finally, the best news is that complaints against members are now beginning to plateau.