Letter in response to the GDC ARF (See Below)

Mr Moyes

The BADT is extremely disappointed at the stance taken regarding relaxation of the ARF by the GDC.

The GDC stated they are “very aware that the effect of suspension of routine dental care and services is severe and that has prevented you providing the patient treatment and care you want to- and in some cases has caused financial difficulties”.

The BADT would like the GDC to be aware that the current pandemic has denied many of our members an income of any kind.  The intimation that “in some cases” this has caused financial difficulties is not only incorrect, it is somewhat damaging for the Regulator to suggest this. The hard reality is that “most” are affected, with special focus on those members who are self-employed who have failed to receive any Government help. Several of our members are relying on Universal Credit of approximately £63 per week. These members now face paying their ARF or feeding their family, a stark truth that does not sit well with the BADT. It is not unreasonable that they are upset and feel let down by the Regulator, indeed many of them are incredibly angry, and understandably so.

The GDC has told registrants that they have been able to continue their work by remote working, an option not open to registrants. It is interesting to BADT in particular that whilst you have been able to carry on this work, the BADT have still not received the meeting notes from February 18th this year regarding the 

registration of overseas dentists as Hygienists and Therapists despite several requests.

An offer to pay the ARF in two or three instalments, this one time only, would have been extremely helpful but also supportive and sympathetic and would have ensured the GDC still received full funding. The GDC has failed to disclose why it is unable to do such a gesture to ensure registrants are able to comply with the Law.

A drop of just 10% of all DCP groups failing to re-register will cost the GDC a fall in income of £800 000+, is this a gamble the GDC is willing to take?

This global pandemic is unprecedented, and we have all had to adjust our attitudes and ways of working and living, it is a shame the GDC do not feel they also need to do this. As a PR exercise, this has been a spectacular fail and a huge step backwards in the progress the GDC have tried to make.
We ask the GDC to reconsider.
Debbie Hemington
Chair, BADT
On behalf of BADT members
22 May 2020

Message from the Chair of the GDC,
received by registrants 21st May 2020
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant effect on our lives. I am very aware that the effect of the suspension of routine dental care and services is severe and that it has prevented you providing the patient treatment and care you want to – and in some cases has caused financial difficulties. We have been asked whether the GDC could respond by making changes to the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) paid by all dental professionals or by introducing an emergency payment by instalments scheme.The Council has thought carefully about the options available to us, but we have decided not to make changes to the ARF levels or to introduce a payment scheme. These are not decisions we have taken lightly, and I know they won’t be welcomed by some of those we regulate, so I want to be clear about the reasons why we have made them.The work we have to do, which is laid down in law, has not fundamentally changed.

We are required to remain financially stable and to meet our statutory obligations to ensure the public are protected and confidence in the professions is maintained.Nearly all our incomes comes from the ARF collection. By revising our regulatory approach and increasing our efficiency, we have been able to secure greater value for money and reduce the ARF – and we hope to continue along this path. But we don’t want to make changes now that we can’t sustain, and which might lead to inefficiency and increased costs in the future. We are looking hard at the way we deliver our services, both during the current emergency and beyond. One example of that is that we have rapidly developed ways of running hearings remotely.

That could eventually lead to a permanent reduction in our costs, and if it does, that reduction will be reflected in the fees we charge in future. For the time being though, significant uncertainty remains about the months ahead and it is just too early to predict what is going to happen – to the sector as a whole or to the GDC. So, it would be imprudent to make changes which might not be sustainable, or which have the potential to add further risks or cost to what we do.In looking at the options available to us, we were also aware that even changes with very significant negative impacts on the GDC would make only a small difference to the level of the ARF.

Only the government is in a position to provide financial support to the professions and they have chosen to do so both through NHS contract arrangements and by more general support to employers and businesses. I am very aware that the benefits of that have been felt unevenly, particularly by those outside the scope of NHS contract support, but the level of the ARF is not an effective way of addressing that issue.I very much want to see a return to healthy, safe and successful dental services, as I know you do too and I look forward to your being able once again to offer your patients the full range of care and treatment they need.
Dr William MoyesChair, General Dental Council