Photo (c) Getty Images
Finally, some good news to share for dentistry – the General Dental Council have finally seen sense and dropped the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) for dentists to £680.
We fought hard against the hike in 2014, when fee levels jumped from £576 to £890. We felt dentists were being made to pay for the mismanagement at the GDC, and we took them to the High Court.
Increases in complaints levels were cited for the fee rise decided in 2014, in a consultation process that the High Court deemed unlawful. Those projected increases never materialised, and we have constantly maintained that the fees must come down – and finally, they have!
We're also pleased to see the GDC has recognised the deep loss of confidence of the profession in the way it has been run, and that it now seems to have turned a corner and is looking to rebuild our trust.
The GDC has been actively engaging on many subjects in recent times, and the BDA has been at the forefront of discussions and consultations. These can take many forms; from individual meetings on a particular subject, wider working groups and stakeholder meetings, to conferences, attendance at public Council meetings, and submitting written commentary to official consultations or matters of interest or concern.
We have just responded to a GDC discussion document on ideas for the future of CPD. The GDC is currently undertaking a piece of work on the merits of moving away from a quantitative CPD system and giving more choice and responsibility to dentists and DCPs for their own learning.
For many years, we have been critical of the 'tick-box' approach to CPD that the current system has created, and so a move away from this has positive implications. Ideas for change include a portfolio-based approach, a possible move away from a set requirement of hours and from recommended subjects, giving dentists and DCPs more freedom to decide on appropriate avenues for their own learning, within a framework of certain components. While this might be positive in theory, we continue to stress that it is imperative that professional organisations, including the BDA, need to be involved in designing and changing any systems, that the process must not be onerous, and that for some aspects of these ideas there needs to be funding allocated so that the profession does not face a significant financial burden.
We will continue to hold our regulator to account.
Our efforts over the past few years to stand up for the interests of our members finally seems to be paying off. A lot of this work goes on behind the scenes, but rest assured, we will continue to fight for a fair and transparent system for our members, and the whole dental profession.
Mick Armstrong, Chair
BDA Principal Executive Committee
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