09 Jan 2011

Alison Lockyer, Chair of the General Dental Council, talks about revalidation... 


In September 1998, GP Harold Shipman was arrested and charged with the murder of his patient Kathleen Grundy. Later he was jailed, not only for killing her, but also 14 other patients. Officials at the time feared he could be behind another 150 deaths.

His crimes have had a huge impact on the regulation of healthcare, because – quite rightly – people demanded answers to the question, “how could this happen?” This was addressed in the Shipman inquiry, which called for new measures to protect the public.

While no system of safeguards can ever guarantee stopping a killer such as Shipman, we and other healthcare regulators are moving forwards with a new scheme called “revalidation”. Our plans mean regular checks for the health professionals we register.

I want to reassure you that we’re looking very carefully at the practicalities of bringing in revalidation. The last thing we want is to over-burden dental professionals with extra paper work when they should be treating patients. The Department of Health is keen for us to learn from the General Medical

Council’s experiences as it pilots its scheme, and to ensure that the benefits of introducing revalidation must significantly outweigh the costs before any decision on implementation is taken.

This is why we don’t plan to introduce revalidation for dentists – including myself – until 2014. We will evaluate the dentist scheme first in terms of public protection before considering it for dental care professionals. CPD will be a key part of the scheme. After all, you’re already putting time and effort into keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Under our current proposals, you will be asked to provide evidence you’re meeting standards in four domains:

  • Clinical
  • Management and leadership
  • Communication
  • Professionalism

We’re going to make use of existing and developing quality systems, such as NHS practice inspections or performance appraisals.

We are proposing a three-stage process at the end of each five-year cycle:

  • Stage 1 – compliance check, which will apply to all dentists
  • Stage 2 – remediation phase, which will provide an opportunity to dentists who do not pass Stage 1 to remedy deficiencies
  • Stage 3 – in-depth assessment, which will apply to dentists who fail to demonstrate their compliance at the end of the remediation phase.

It’s important you take an active role in shaping revalidation. You will be the ones who have to go through the system so I would urge you to have your say in our current consultation. It closes on January 6 2011 so there’s plenty of time to read up on the details on our website:

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