GDC revalidation proposals described as unclear, bureaucratic and inappropriate

GDC revalidation proposals described as unclear, bureaucratic and inappropriate

09 Jan 2011

The GDC needs to provide greater detail about the cost and fairness of its revalidation proposals for dentists, says the DDU (Dental Defence Union), and the BDA has given the verdict that the likelihood of increased paperwork will reduce the number of patients seen and add another layer of regulation.

In its response to the GDC’s consultation document, the Union highlights a number of concerns about the GDC’s plans for external verifiers to oversee compliance and the right of dentists to appeal against their decisions.

Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, head of the DDU, said, “We are concerned that there is a lack of detail about the way external verifiers will be chosen and their decisions audited and rigorously quality-assured. To take just three areas: it is unclear how the GDC is going to assure itself and the public that external verifiers are independent; what procedures will be in place if a dentist believes that the external verifier is not capable of undertaking the role or a conflict of interest develops; what controls will be put in place by the GDC to ensure that the fees charged by external verifiers are reasonable and affordable to practising dentists?

“In addition, dentists who were removed from the register for not complying with revalidation would lose their career. The process that leads to such a sanction must be consistent with their rights to a fair procedure under Articles 6 and/or 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The consultation document does not provide such reassurance. 

“(...) On the basis of the consultation document, we could not currently suggest to our members that the proposed procedure will be fair and there must be considerable concerns about the expense, not just for dentists who will be revalidated, but who will ultimately bear the expense of ‘accrediting’ and quality assuring external verifiers?” 

The BDA has also expressed its concerns. It argues that the proposals are onerous, bureaucratic and inappropriate, and out of step with the GDC’s repeatedly-expressed intention to develop a system which is proportionate. Furthermore, it says that the evidence base for the proposals is unsound and that pilots for the proposals carried out in 2009 failed to cover a representative number of practitioners. It also calls for the proposals to be subjected to a full cost-benefit analysis.

Dr Susie Sanderson, Chair of the BDA’s Executive Board, said, “It is important that standards for professional revalidation in dentistry are transparent, consistent, and proportionate, and offer reassurance to patients. The BDA supports measures that meet those criteria. We also agree with the view expressed by the Working Group on Non-Medical Revalidation that the intensity and frequency of revalidation must be proportionate to the risks inherent in the work a practitioner is involved in. 

 “The BDA supports the work of the GDC as the regulator of dentistry in the UK, but we have some serious concerns about the proposals put forward in this consultation and the wider context in which they have been presented. The circumstances confronting dentistry have changed since these proposals were initially mooted, and it would be sensible to look at them again to assess the cost of changes and the benefits they might deliver. We would welcome the opportunity to input into that process.”