The chair of the British Dental Association’s Principal Executive Committee, Mick Armstrong, expressed his alarm at the dental regulator’s plans for a 64 per cent rise in the annual retention fee when he met with GDC leaders recently.
The proposal for the fee rise that was announced would see dentists fees rise from £576 to £945. Dentists have no choice but to pay, in order for them to practise lawfully.
Dr Armstrong told GDC leaders that that such a rise is wholly unacceptable. The scale of the rise is unprecedented and is at odds with the actions of all other regulators. It also comes on the back of a highly critical Professional Standards Authority (PSA) report on the GDC.
Commenting on the proposed fee rise, Dr Armstrong said:
The suggestion that the profession pay more to fund a Council that has been shown unable to do its job properly is frankly astonishing. The rise would be unpalatable at the best of times but it now appears that the profession is being asked to foot the bill for failure.
The PSA report concluded that the GDC had failed to meet seven out of 10 standards governing registrants’ fitness to practise. These failings have led to both patients and dentists being left in limbo and have added to the stress experienced by all parties involved. Pumping more money from registrants into a flawed system is not the solution.
The GDC must investigate the underlying reasons for the ‘significant’ increase in complaints about dental registrants. It needs to work with the profession to determine their causes, the BDA believes, rather than raising dentists’ annual retention fee by nearly two-thirds.
The BDA will be raising these concerns with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, especially as this exorbitant rise is at odds with the principles contained in the 2011 White Paper Enabling Excellence. This requires regulators to minimise the financial burden on individual registrants.
Dr Armstrong continued:
It’s not just the huge rise in fees that has left the dental profession aghast, but, when dentists are expected to tolerate poor performance by the very body that is charged with the duty to assess their fitness to practise, we are justifiably outraged.
The figure is, by a country mile, the highest fee charged by any comparable healthcare regulator. Some have managed to maintain or even reduce their annual retention fees, and also fared better in the PSA reports. Something just doesn’t add up.
The BDA will be consulting members for their views on the GDC’s performance as well as the proposed increase in fees.