The Standards review

The Standards review

28 Jan 2011

Jenny Watts, standards manager, General Dental Council, discusses the Standards review...

As registrants with the GDC, you’ll be aware that we have certain standards you’re expected to meet in order to remain registered with us and able to work in the UK.

The main aim for all dental professionals is to ‘put patients first and act to protect them’. To help you do this we produce a number of guidance documents, including ‘Standards for dental professionals’ and ‘Scope of Practice’.

Our ‘Standards’ are an ethical guide for you as a professional. The document lays out six key principles and you undertake to abide by these when you register with us. We expect you to use your judgement to make decisions in light of the principles and apply them to your daily work. If your behaviour is called into question, we will compare your conduct with the principles laid out in the guidance.

It’s five years since we first published our ‘Standards’ – replacing our previous document, ‘Maintaining Standards’. The move to ethical principles was a significant change in direction at the time, but in the last five years, the landscape of the regulatory world, and the GDC itself, has changed again.

The GDC now registers the entire dental team – dentists, dental nurses, orthodontic therapists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians – and has more than 92,000 dental professionals on its registers.

The aim of the ‘Standards’ review is to go back to square one. The GDC will be asking registrants, patients and other stakeholders what level of detail they would find helpful, what they think of the current standards, what works, what doesn’t and what’s missing.

 The review will take place throughout 2011 and will include consultations, focus groups, a working group and GDC staff attending events across the UK to hear directly from those who will be affected by the changes.

But if you have something you want to say to us now, you can email We’re hoping to produce the new document in early 2012.

At the same time, we’re also reviewing our ‘Scope of Practice’ document. We want to evaluate the effectiveness of the current document, which outlines what each member of the dental team can do and the additional skills they might go on to learn throughout their career.

A call for feedback on ‘Scope of Practice’ will be launched at the end of this month and will be available on the GDC website: It will ask registrants to give their views on whether the document is useful in helping the dental team work more effectively together and what skills may need to be added or amended for each of the seven registrant groups.

The reviews of both of these documents could result in a radical re-design of the GDC’s guidance for registrants and it’s therefore extremely important that we hear from everyone who’ll be affected and make the right changes. 

 The standards are the main ethical guide that we expect dental professionals to apply to their everyday work. This is a significant piece of work for the GDC and one that we anticipate will have a positive impact on dental professionals and therefore on patients.        

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