General Dental Council

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The General Dental Council (GDC) is an organisation which regulates dental professionals in the United Kingdom. It keeps an up-to-date register of all qualified dentists and other dental care professionals such as: dental hygienists, dental therapists, dental nurses, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians.[1] It was established in 1956 to set and maintain standards in UK dentistry, with the aims of protecting the general public from unqualified dental professionals.

Its headquarters are in the City of Westminster, London.[2]

The General Dental Council’s also have stated aims to promote confidence in dental professionals and to be at the forefront of health care regulation. The GDC is tasked with ensuring that all dental professionals maintain up to date knowledge, controlling the quality of dental education in the country, ensuring a proper quality of care is given to the patients, and helping any patient who has questions or complaints. It is meant to act as a bridge of communication between the government, public and the dental professionals.

The General Dental Council is entirely funded by the profession it regulates.[3]

Registration of dental care professionals[edit]

The professions that the GDC include in the dental care professionals group are: dental nurse, dental technician, dental therapist, dental hygienist, orthodontic therapist and clinical dental technician.[4]

On 31 July 2006 it became possible for dental nurses to voluntarily join the GDC register and in July 2008 it became mandatory requirement.[5]

Overseas Registration Exam[edit]

The Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) is administered by the GDC, and is designed to test the knowledge, skills and professionalism of candidates against the standard expected of graduate dentists on first registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).[6] This means that UK graduates and overseas dentists are expected to have the same basic level of knowledge and skills.

The ORE has two parts which must be taken – and passed – in order. The purpose of Part 1 is to test the candidates’ application of knowledge to clinical practice and Part 2 is designed for candidates to demonstrate practical clinical skills.


From 1 October 2013 the Council has consisted of 12 members who are all appointed: 6 registrants and 6 lay members.[7] The changes were specified in the General Dental Council (Constitution) (Amendment) Order 2012 that was made in July 2012. The new Council took office on 1 October 2013, supported by other new governance arrangements.[8]

The Council is led by the first appointed Chair of the GDC, Bill Moyes, who took up office on 1 October 2013.[9] Mr Moyes currently holds non-executive directorships with the Office of Fair Trading, the Priory Hospital Group, and the Legal Services Board. He is a trustee of the Catholic Trust of England and Wales and Chairman of the Board of Governors of Heythrop College, a constituent college of the University of London. He was previously Executive Chairman of Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts from 2004-2010, during the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Scandal and Director General of the British Retail Consortium from 2000–2003.


It was established in 1956 by an amendment to the Dentists Act 1948, now updated in the Dentists Act 1984,

The Council was originally set up in 1956 with 50 members but has been restructured on a couple of occasions, with the number of members decreasing each time. On 1 October 2009, a smaller fully appointed Council took office with 24 members and a balance of 12 lay and 12 professional. The last Chair of the GDC to be elected was qualified dentist Kevin O’Brien who was in post from 21 September 2011 to 30 September 2013. In October 2013 further restructuring occurred.

Oversight of health and social care regulators[edit]

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA), is an independent body accountable to the UK Parliament, which promotes the health and wellbeing of the public and oversees the nine UK healthcare regulators, including the General Dental Council.[10]

The PSA review the performance of all regulators on an annual basis, identifying where things are being done well and where improvements can be made.[11] The PSA review all final decisions made by fitness to practise committees. The PSA audit the initial stages of fitness to practise processes to examine whether the regulator is using effective decision-making processes.[11]


Concerns about cost-effectiveness, levels of confidence in the GDC and cost-effectiveness of fitness to practise procedures were put to the CEO Evlynne Gilvarry by the BDA in an interview that was published in September 2014.[12]

Annual Retention Fees[edit]

The GDC recently ran a consultation on the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) policy, which was open from 16 April until 4 June 2014. The GDC had received over 4000 responses to the consultation on the proposed 64% rise in the Annual Retention, fee, and 97% of responses were critical of the rise. The BDA took the step of appointing Forensic Accountants to analyse the figures presented by the GDC as justification for the rise. The subsequent report was quoted as being 'Damning' and resulted in the GDC having to engage KPMG to assess the figures which had been presented as evidence. In September 2014 the GDC's proposed increase in Annual Retention Fees led to threats of legal action from the British Dental Association, the trade union and representative body of UK dentists.[13]

The Professional Standards Authority have also been highly critical of the GDC in recent months. The GDC is poorest performing regulator in the eyes of the Professional Standards Authority, failing on 8 aspects of its assessment.

Fitness to practise process[edit]

The initial stages of the GDC's fitness to practise process were audited by the PSA with the findings published in December 2013.[14] Dental Protection Limited have been highly critical of the way in which the GDC approach the Fitness to Practice Proceedings that are the disciplinary hearings Dentists have to undergo. The PSA announced in May 2014 that it would be undertaking an investigation of the management and support processes of the General Dental Council’s Investigating Committee.[15]


  1. ^ "About us: Who we regulate". General Dental Council. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Contact us". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "About us: Policy development: Annual Retention Fee policy". General Dental Council. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dental professionals: Apply for registration". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Internal Caseworker Guidance: Dental nurse" (PDF). UK Government. December 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Dental professionals: Overseas registration exam". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "About us: Who are we: the council". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Review of the Recruitment of the Council 2013" (PDF). General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Press release: General Dental Council announces first appointed Chair". General Dental Council. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Statutory Regulators Directory: Organisation Profile: General Dental Council (GDC)". Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Regulators: Overseeing Regulators". Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Doherty, Ruth (12 September 2014). "Evlynne Gilvarry: GDC view on the 2014 ARF consultation". British Dental Journal 217: 218-220. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.784. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Press release: BDA tells GDC – “Step back or face legal challenge”". British Dental Association. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Audit of the General Dental Council’s initial stages fitness to practise process" (PDF). Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. December 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "News: GDC Investigation 2014". Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 

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