With some dental professionals falling foul of requirements around CPD and registration, is a simplified regulation process needed?

Dentistry can be both rewarding and stressful: rewarding when a patient or colleague thanks us for doing a good job, and stressful when balancing the needs of running a business with our clinical and professional duties.

One of those professional duties is keeping up to date with continuing professional development (CPD). As part of renewing your registration with the GDC each year, you must declare your CPD statement within 28 days of the end of the relevant annual renewal period, even if it is for zero hours. For dental care professionals, the CPD statement deadline is 28 August; for dentists it is 28 January.

Declaring CPD

So far, so straightforward. But in recent years, there have been growing numbers of DDU members who have reported difficulties when declaring their CPD. They may have failed to complete the requisite number of CPD hours for the relevant period or have encountered other administrative problems.

While the number of dentists on the UK register increased slightly during 2022 to 43,130, 999 dentists did not renew their registration, which is 2.3% of those on the register. Unfortunately, within that group are a number who have been removed due to failure to complete or declare CPD correctly, and also those who have encountered problems with payment of the annual retention fee (ARF).

It is of course your responsibility to declare the appropriate CPD and to ensure the ARF is paid - but mistakes can happen. At the DDU, we want to see a simplified process. That’s why we support the sentiment behind Dentistry’s campaign aimed at introducing some additional safeguards, such as more frequent reminders. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Reform and legislation

Earlier in 2023, the GDC announced that dental professionals who have been off the register for less than 12 months and have always complied with CPD will be able to sign a declaration that it is up to date, rather than send a copy of their full CPD record. This took effect in June 2023 and we hope will speed up restorations.

Under the current rules, it is not within the GDC’s power to make changes to the grace period, which is set out in legislation. Nor is it possible for registrants to seek a grace period for completing additional CPD after the declaration deadline has passed. This is why we are continuing to press for reform to allow the GDC to be able to make such common sense changes in future.

If we want a regulator that is agile enough to keep up to pace with modern dental practice, we need to make registration and regulation as smooth and stress free as possible. Legislation was initially promised in 2022 to give effect to these changes at the GDC, but we are still waiting. Reform cannot slip down the agenda again and must go hand in hand with plans such as the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

In the meantime, here are some steps to avoid registration woes.

DDU checklist

  • Make sure you declare the correct number of CPD hours. Dentists need a minimum of 100 hours verifiable CPD over a five-year cycle. Dental therapists, hygienists, orthodontic therapists and clinical dental technicians need a minimum of 75 hours. Dental nurses and dental technicians need a minimum of 50 hours per five year cycle. All dental professionals must complete 10 hours in every two years .
  • Keep a CPD record in your personal development plan, including a log of dates and duration and any independently verifiable documentary evidence such as certificates.
  • Map each CPD item against one or more of the GDC's four development outcomes - communication, management and leadership, skills and knowledge, and professionalism.
  • Declare appropriate CPD requirements when you renew your registration and ensure the declaration goes through correctly. Remember that you can't declare zero hours for two years running, including across two separate cycles.
  • Set up reminders throughout the year to complete sufficient CPD. If you think you're not going to meet your CPD requirements for any reason, contact your dental defence organisation well before the final deadline date.
Learn and develop
  • Ensure your contact and bank details with the GDC are up to date.
  • Try to ensure emails don't go into spam by adding the relevant address to your contact list and marking past emails as legitimate. Keep an eye on your spam folder around renewal time, just in case.
  • Check everything is in place for a successful renewal and that payment has gone through.
  • If your GDC registration lapses, inform your dental defence organisation as soon as possible.
  • Remember that you will not be able to treat patients until your registration is restored.

Further resources

This article was first published on Dentistry.co.uk in December 2023, and has been edited for publication. 

This page was correct at publication on 18/03/2024. 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.