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State of General Dental Practice Report

The BDA has produced its first State of General Dental Practice research report. It is based on data from a range of sources, including the BDA’s Dental Business Trends Survey, Foundation Dentists Survey and Freedom of Information Request to the NHS Business Services Authority. The report provides a comprehensive account of what general dental practice in the UK looks like, from the number of practices to the wellbeing of dentists. The report is available to download from the research pages.

DDRB Evidence submitted

The BDA's submission to the DDRB for 2014/15 is available to download below. The BDA submission covered the whole UK and provided information on morale, motivation, recruitment and retention for both general dental practitioners and salaried dentists.

LDC Connections

The latest LDC Connections is now available to view on the BDA website.

Topics discussed in this edition of LDC Connections include information on the GDPC call for full reimbursement for LDC representatives attending area team meetings, NHS England guidance for Local Professional Networks, and the 2013 LDC Conference Report, as well as others.

May meeting

Direct access

The main business of the day was a debate on the General Dental Council’s decision to allow direct access to dental hygienists and therapists. The Committee unanimously voted to pass a motion condemning the decision-making process and the final decision to allow direct access. The Committee recognised the role and value of dental hygienists and therapists but agreed that their greatest contribution was to be made as part of a dentist-led team. Direct access to these professionals outside of a full dental team was felt to put unknown risks into the care of patients. There were numerous practical problems regarding radiographs and provision of local anaesthesia as well as issues of informed consent and referrals. The Committee unanimously agreed that the GDC’s decision did not protect the public.

The motion that was passed was: “The General Dental Practice Committee condemns the flawed decision-making process and subsequent decision of the General Dental Council to introduce direct access on the basis that its decision fails to protect patients.”

The full press release following the meeting can be found here:

Associate Strategy

Following the debate on the future of associates at the GDPC meeting in January this year, a draft strategy was developed to address the concerns raised about the job market for associates, terms and conditions and career opportunities. This strategy was approved by the Committee and is being considered by the Young Dentists Committee and Associates Group for further development later this month. The strategy outlined the existing work that the BDA is progressing including:

  • Impact assessment on the decision to allow direct access

  • Developments in advanced care

  • Financial pressures on associates, including accessing loans to purchase practices, the increased role of corporates, fair pay and pensions, and the relationship between practice owners and associates

  • Incentivisation in a new contract based on capitation

  • Self-employed status

The BDA is conducting focus groups with members to better understand attitudes to employment status. A longitudinal study of a group of new graduates is taking place over the next five to ten years to examine the changing nature of dentistry and its impact on career development. As the various projects develop, updates will be available through the BDA website.

Advanced care

Proposals from the Department of Health regarding levels of competency to deliver more complex levels of care were condemned by the Committee. While a clearer career development structure was welcomed and it was acknowledged that some sections of the population will require an increasing number of additionally qualified generalists, the Committee felt that restrictions on what GDPs can do could have adverse effects on access to appropriate patient care.

The development of Dentists with Enhanced Skills (DES) was discussed. This project was being led by the Faculty of Dental Surgery, and the BDA had representation on the main working group. Questions were raised over the funding of training and the impact that a lack of DESs in rural areas or areas with low population could have on patients. The role of the generalist was defended as a specialism in its own right, and any move to require a formal qualification or recognition of competencies in discrete areas of general dentistry was rejected as unnecessary. It was felt that patients could lose trust in their dentist if they were unable to have a treatment which had previously been provided.

Formalisation was felt to have medico-legal implications which may affect private practice, but it was recognised that practitioners should not be treating beyond their competence. The pilot sites were collecting data on the number of level 1, 2 and 3 treatments that would be required under the new care pathways and this data will be used to understand more about the distribution of disease and the levels of care required.

Standard Operating Procedures

The first set of Standard Operating Procedures had been sent to Area Teams. The BDA had commented on drafts to try to ensure that the policies reflected best practice. The final documents were reported to be of mixed quality, however. Some, such as the procedure on contract variation were considered to raise problems with the Care Quality Commission’s policies. The BDA would be seeking amendments to rectify the remaining problems. The published procedures are:

  • Death of a contractor

  • Mid-year/year-end reviews

  • Contract variation

  • Incorporation

  • Contract termination

  • PDS to GDS

Ethical procurement and environmental sustainability

The Committee received a statement from the Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group on ethical procurement and environmental sustainability. The statement was supported. It was recommended that practitioners look at the sourcing of all consumables in their practice to do what they can to make sure they are sourced responsibly. Any concerns over the source of materials or consumables should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). Concerns had already been raised by the MHRA about the quality of some implants.

Other business

The Committee received two presentations. The first was from Vice-Chair of GDPC, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, on his work for Burmadent, a charity working to improve the oral health of children and the rural population in Burma. The charity needed volunteer dentists to go and spend two weeks in Burma to provide much needed treatment. The second presentation was from the Chair of the Principal Executive Committee, Martin Fallowfield, on the new membership arrangements and recently-published strategy. The rationale for the new membership tiers was explained as making the fees more representative of use.

Concerns continued to be raised over foundation training with members of the Committee frustrated that trainers continued to be excluded from the selection process in large areas of the country. It was felt that all trainers should have a say in which trainees they had in their practice.

LDCs should have begun to be recognised and the levy collected and distributed, though this was reported to be variable in its implementation. LDCs should be recognised as they are and it should not be up to Area teams to dictate the local representational structure of dentists. The role and involvement of LDCs on Local Professional Networks was felt to be very important and should be made clearer in guidance from NHS England.

The Committee meeting dates in 2013 are 25 January, 10 May and 04 October.



The General Dental Practice represents all general dental practitioners in the UK. There are 60 directly elected members of the Committee, 3 members from LDC Conference, a representative of the Conference of Vocational Training Advisers. There are a number of seats for other organisations.

The Chair and Vice-Chair of the BDA's Principal Executive Committee are also members of the Committee.

A full list of members can be found to the left.

The General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) was established in January 2003 and aims to reflect the mixed economy of general dental practice. It represents the interests, and acts on behalf of, dentists working in general practice. It is also recognised by the the Government as representing NHS general dental practitioners.

About the Committee

The Committee's purpose is to:

  • Represent and promote the interests of dentists in all types of general practice (General Dental Service, private, Personal Dental Service, corporate, specialist practitioners, including practice-owners and non-owners) and improve communication between them, enabling coherent policies to be developed and promoted on behalf of the profession.

  • Make possible rapid, efficient and representative responses to consultation from Government and other organisations.

  • Unite general dental practitioners and ensure their independence.

  • Ensure that appropriate services are developed for general dental practitioners.

GDPC Executive

GDPC Executive is the main Sub-Committee of GDPC. It is chaired by the Chair of GDPC and carries on the business of GDPC between meetings. It submits a report on its activities to GDPC at every meeting as well as keeping members up to date with its newsletter - GDPC Bitesize.

The Chair of the GDPC is John Milne, a GDP practising in Wakefield.
The Vice Chairs are Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen (London) and Peter Hodgkinson (Cornwall)
The four Executive sub-committee members are Dave Cottam (Birmingham), Richard Emms (North Yorkshire), Paul Kelly (Devon) and Jane Moore (Leeds)
The three remaining seats on the Executive are taken up by the Chairs of the Wales, Northern Ireland and Scottish Dental Practice Committees.

Contact details

If you would like further information regarding the GDPC please contact on 020 7563 4157.