A pilot scheme is being launched this month which will aim to ensure that concerns about dentist's performance are handled where appropriate by the local NHS in England, rather than by the national regulator, the General Dental Council.

Currently both the GDC and the NHS have powers to take action against dentists where there are concerns about their performance. The GDC currently receives complaints about dentists, some of which could be handled by the NHS locally rather than through the GDC's fitness to practise processes.

The GDC is keen to ensure that any concerns about an NHS dentist's performance or fitness to practise are dealt with in the most proportionate and effective manner. This requires an early dialogue between the GDC and the NHS, which manages the contracts offered to dentists, to ensure that the GDC deals only with fitness to practise cases whilst the NHS deals with other issues of performance management.

The pilot, which begins this month, will aim to explore the full potential of this approach and will involve the GDC working with 5 NHS England Local Area Teams (LATs) over 12 months.

The potential benefits include:

  • a more proportionate and efficient approach in dealing with performance management issues;
  • focussing GDC resources on cases where patients are at risk and a registrant's fitness to practise may be impaired;
  • better use of the NHS performance management framework and using local remediation to address performance issues where fitness to practise is not impaired;
  • The results of the pilot will be used to develop an approach that can be rolled out on a national basis.

    Chief Executive and Registrar of the GDC, Evlynne Gilvarry, said:

    "The General Dental Council welcomes the opportunity to work closely with NHS England on this pilot scheme. The scheme has the potential to enable the GDC to focus more of its resources on cases where patients are at risk because the dentists' fitness to practise may be impaired. Equally it offers the opportunity to make much greater use of local performance management systems for less serious concerns."

    Dr David Geddes, NHS England's Head of Primary Care Commissioning, said:

    "The scheme will encourage an early dialogue between the NHS and the GDC to enable a more adequate assessment of the most appropriate organisation to investigate the complaint."