90% of NHS dentists and 94% of predominantly and totally private dentists don’t feel confident that the GDC understands the impact of its processes and procedures on the profession.
Neither are the majority of both NHS/predominantly and 100% private dentists confident that the GDC:
- Would handle any complaint against them appropriately
- Is doing a good job in protecting the public
- Is making sufficient progress with addressing its challenges (such as those outlined in Shifting the Balance)
Those are the findings of a 2019 survey of more than 400 dentists. The results of the Dentistry Confidence Monitor survey also showed that 85% of predominantly NHS and 48% of predominantly/100% private dentists are anxious about their ability to meet the GDC’s standards.
78% of all dentists responding to the survey said they would support the idea of the GDC being dissolved and a single regulator being formed to prevent the duplication of other regulators’ duties.
Key opinion leaders have their say
To explore the results of the survey, we gathered a panel of key opinion leaders from the profession for a discussion.
Bethany Rushworth, student engagement lead for Dentinal Tubules and the new editor of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Dentistry, said, “You go to university with high hopes and you’re excited and optimistic, but quite quickly you start thinking ‘is this what I thought it was going to be like?’.
“On day one you are given a copy of the GDC standards and you’re told ‘you must abide by this for the rest of your career, and if you don’t, it’s over’.
“You leave university scared of failing and maybe also with an irrational perception of the risks there are as a dentist, so you think the tiniest thing will be catastrophic and your whole career will be over.”
Simon Thackeray, a private dentist and expert witness, said, “The GDC is not there to punish, it’s there to protect the patients and their sanctions are not meant to be punitive. But I think 99% of the profession would say the GDC is there to punish because you could lose your career if you transgress, and that transgression could be something that is actually quite silly.
“You’ve gone through the competition to get through dental school, you’re generally a caring person and potentially you’re being told your career is over.”
Eddie Crouch, vice-chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, highlighted that improvements were being made in terms of complaints being dealt with.
He said, “At a local level, people are telling me they’ve had a complaint at the GDC and within a short space of time it’s been dropped.
“The case handler section of the GDC is functioning well at least. My worry is that some of the people who were driving some of the changes have moved on. But what we want is someone who really understands dentistry leading the profession and regulation.”
Find out more
The panel, which also included Rory O’Connor from the Dental Health Support Trust, Chris Groombridge, from the Association of Dental Groups, and Duncan Thomas, an owner of two mixed practices, had a wide-ranging discussion talking about mental health, meeting the GDC standards and contract reform.