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Strategic aim 1:

To operate a regulatory system which protects patients and is fair to registrants, while being cost-effective and proportionate; which begins with education, supports career-long learning, promotes high standards of care and professional conduct and is developed in the light of emerging evidence and experience.


We will pursue the following objectives to achieve this aim:

Dental education

  • We will continue to develop our approach to assuring the quality of pre-registration education and training, fully implementing the thematic and risk-based approaches that we have piloted in 2019.
  • We will use the findings of our first thematic review of education, which focuses on how well UK undergraduate training programmes prepare new dentists for practice, to inform our policy and quality assurance activity in relation to education and training and to work with others to deliver improvements to the structure of education and training systems in dentistry.
  • We will use evidence, research and intelligence to further develop our processes for identifying risk, to evolve learning outcomes and to inform our approach to quality assurance, including identifying areas for thematic review.
  • We will bring focus to the question of whether selection, often based on academic results, is generating the right pool of talent for the future healthcare workforce.
  • We will continue to ensure that those we register meet the relevant requirements, giving the appropriate scrutiny to applications and subsequent changes, and acting promptly to give effect to decisions or actions affecting an individual’s registration.
  • We will use research and engagement to develop a better understanding of what professionalism means to the public, and what is important to them in their relationship with dental professionals. This will include establishing and promoting a dialogue between the professions and the public to build a shared view of professionalism.
  • We will translate that shared understanding into principles of professionalism, establishing common ground with other regulators where possible. There will be a clear emphasis on acting in the best interests of patients.
  • We will use these principles as the basis for reviewing and developing all the standards we set, including those for education and training of dentists and DCPs. We will work collaboratively with the professions and our partners to communicate and embed them into education, learning and practice and to encourage dental professionals to have greater ownership of the principles and standards.
  • We will continue to embed and evaluate the CPD scheme for dental professionals, working towards completion of the first full cycle for dentists at the end of 2022 and for DCPs in mid-2023. In parallel, we will continue to scope a future model for lifelong learning for dental professionals; exploring a professionally driven, outcomes focused system which moves away from an inputs system driven by regulatory requirements.
  • During 2020‑2022 we will build on the existing scheme, introducing elements and activities which are beneficial and which professionals should be encouraged to take up, regardless of a formal regulatory requirement placed upon them.
  • We will work with others, through the Shifting the balance leadership network, to create an environment in which those responsible for deploying professionals in the provision of dental services are playing their part in promoting professionalism.
  • We will collaborate with our partners and the professions to develop guidance aimed at influencing and encouraging those who employ, contract or commission dental professionals to deliver services to support high standards of conduct and behaviour.
  • We will develop our approach to sharing learning with a range of audiences and will continue to improve how we engage with dental professionals, dental students and trainees and other stakeholders. We will continue to build on research carried out in 2018 that detailed how we are perceived by stakeholders and summarised their most effective and preferred methods of engagement, and we will repeat this research regularly to support this improvement work.
  • We will continue to explore how the influence of human factors can lead to errors and ultimately patient harm even though the professionals involved have the relevant clinical competence and professionalism to meet our standards of practice. This will be considered against a backdrop of seeking to inform and educate professionals about circumstances that may increase the risk of errors and how to avoid them.
  • We will continue to evolve our understanding, insight and dissemination of learning that arises from the analysis of the information that we gather through our fitness to practise processes. We will look to increase the reach, quality, range and impact of learning to assist the profession to take positive action to avoid potential enforcement matters arising.
  • We know that the way we currently describe our mission, ‘protecting patients, regulating the dental team’, is a source of contention for many professionals and we agree that it does not do justice to the transformation of the GDC. We intend to change it across all our communications. The subtitle of this document, ‘working with the dental team for public safety and confidence’, may provide us with a more accurate description of what we seek to achieve.
  • We will develop more effective digital channels that allow two-way engagement, both between professionals and their regulator and between professionals themselves.

Strategic aim 2

Work with the professions and partners to ensure patients and the public are able to raise concerns with the agency best placed to resolve them effectively.

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