Thomas Reynolds, the DDU's head of policy and strategic communications, shines a light on some of our work to champion members' interests with decision-makers.

At the DDU, we understand that dentistry is a rewarding but challenging career, and we know how hard dental professionals work.

We know this not only because of the support we offer members on a daily basis, but because we are staffed by dental professionals who have first-hand experience of what it's like to be there in practice when dento-legal issues arise.

We don't exist on the sidelines of the dental community, we are there at the heart of it - we're your company, owned and run by you, our members. That means we share your concerns about the issues that make a difference to you and your work. It also means we're able to share our dento-legal expertise with policy makers and opinion formers, to champion your interests.

By representing your interests and giving a voice to your concerns, we can positively influence government, regulatory and legislative policy to ensure you are not just being represented, but actively heard and listened to.

Here, we look back of some of that work so far this year - with parliament, the General Dental Council (GDC) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

House of Commons inquiry into NHS dentistry

In January, we made a submission to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee's inquiry into NHS dentistry, and used the opportunity to make a strong case for the reform of the GDC.

The legislation dentists are working under is among the oldest of all the regulated healthcare professions in the UK. As the government continues to move forward slowly on its regulatory reform agenda, we are urging ministers not to leave dental professionals at the back of the queue.

That is not to say the GDC can't reform their processes and improve the regulation of dentists in the meantime - they certainly can, and we are engaging with them on that subject. But for sizeable reforms, like accepted outcomes in fitness to practise proceedings to bring cases to a swifter conclusion, we need legislative reform. This is a big campaigning focus for the DDU in the year ahead.

Scope of practice

In May, we responded to the GDC's consultation on its proposed revisions to its scope of practice guidance. While the GDC have taken some positive steps to improve the guidance, we are urging them to better define, clearly, what each group of registrants can do - and what they cannot do.

For the regulation of dental professionals to be fair and consistent, supporting guidance needs to deliver as much certainty as possible on this point, and we will be working with the GDC on this.

We do not want to stifle innovations in practice. Quite the opposite, we just want to ensure we achieve maximum clarity for all members of the dental team, so they can be sure they remain working within their scope of practice.

The legislation dentists are working under is among the oldest of all the regulated healthcare professions in the UK.

Indemnity arrangements

June brought another GDC consultation, this time on the subject of indemnity, and the organisation's guidance for the dental team.

We want to make sure the guidance is clear and helpful for our members. In our response, we said that as far as the DDU is concerned, the significance of the guidance goes beyond ensuring that GDC registrants are aware of their legal, regulatory obligations to have appropriate indemnity or insurance in place - vitally important though that is. We see a core purpose of this guidance as being a reminder to dental professionals that they have a range of options available to fulfil this obligation; multiple options, whether indemnity or insurance in nature.

We are proud of the indemnity offer we provide to the dental profession and believe our dentist-for-dentist ethos, with our strong success rates in defending members, is why so many dental professionals choose us as their provider of choice.

DDU Social media course 2023

Engagement with the government on top-up-fees

There has been much debate about the implications of the Court of Appeal ruling on the permissibility of so called top-up fees after it found against the GDC. Dentists are now faced with a situation where they must not only try to interpret the regulations, but also the Court of Appeal's ruling and the extent to which top-up fees are permissible.

That is why since the judgment was circulated, the DDU has been doing all it can to secure more information for the profession from the government, and we have already met with the DHSC urging it to act urgently to clarify the position. This is such an important issue for our members. Whatever solution the government has to rectify the situation with the regulations, it is important they do so quickly. The current situation is unsatisfactory for everyone.

On your side, by your side

At its core, the work of the DDU is to guide, support and defend our members. We work diligently, often behind the scenes, to promote your interests, and championing your cause with government, legislators and regulators is a key part of how we do just that.

This page was correct at publication on 17/10/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.