General Dental Council names new Chief Executive Officer

The General Dental Council (GDC) is pleased to announce that Tom Whiting has been appointed as its new Chief Executive Officer and Registrar and will take up his position in the next three months. 

Tom joins from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) where he is Acting Director General having been Deputy Director General since 2019. 

At the IOPC, Tom was committed to building effective relationships internally and externally and to creating a motivated workforce dedicated to improving public trust and confidence in policing. 

Throughout his career, Tom’s focus on equality, diversity and inclusion stands out, both in ensuring that service delivery and regulatory processes are fair and in building an inclusive workplace and culture. 

Prior to the IOPC, Tom spent fourteen years in local government at Harrow Council, most recently as their Interim Chief Executive, where he was responsible for public health, public protection services safeguarding children and adults and a range of regulatory services including environmental health, trading standards, planning and building control. For many years he was responsible for finance, people and legal and governance services.  

Lord Toby Harris, GDC Chair, said: “I am very pleased to welcome Tom as the GDC’s new Chief Executive Officer. He brings the skills, qualities and experience needed to help us further develop trust and high performance as well as enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion for staff and in our regulatory processes. Tom will join the GDC at an exciting time, as we remain focused on our performance, modernise how we register dental professionals who qualify abroad and develop our corporate strategy for 2026-2028. One of Tom’s priorities will be to build and maintain the trust of the public and the professions, as well as key external stakeholders across the four nations, and I am looking forward to working with him to do so.”  

On accepting his appointment, Tom Whiting said: “I am really pleased to join the GDC at such a pivotal time and look forward to meeting staff, dental professionals and external stakeholders to understand their views and priorities. The dental sector and the public face many challenges and I want to work together with all stakeholders to tackle our shared issues and make progress on shared goals.

“From my time in different public sector bodies, I understand the need to balance constraints with opportunities, and to build trust and confidence through transparency, open communication and a commitment to learning. I am hugely excited about doing so in the GDC and look forward to joining very soon.”

GDC publishes update on transparency, trust, and improving the Fitness to Practise process

The General Dental Council (GDC) is looking into the level of detail published from Interim Orders Committee (IOC) hearings, and how it plans to report deaths during an FtP (Fitness to Practise) investigation.

The GDC states that it recognises FtP is a stressful and difficult process, noting that it has taken various steps to minimise unnecessary stress and anxiety and ensure that the small number of dental professionals involved in an investigation are supported and that their mental health and wellbeing is a priority.    

Last year, following an inquest, a coroner raised concerns with the GDC about the level of detail that is put into the public domain regarding allegations being considered by an IOC.  

The GDC has expressed great sadness about learning of the death of a dentist whose case was under investigation and send their deepest sympathy and thoughts to their family.   

The regulator recognised the concerns raised by the coroner and at the time, work was underway to review the policy on the publication of IOC outcomes. The aim of the review is to ensure the correct balance of the public interest in open justice and safety, against the interests of the dental professional, particularly when assessing untested allegations. The role of the IOC is to assess immediate and serious risks to public safety or confidence and to take action when necessary.  It does not have a role in making findings of fact. 

The GDC is working to build a framework to report the causes of death of dental professionals where there is an active FtP case, guided by an evidence review and engagement with experts including the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group. The regulator explains the work underway to bring together a report that covers the period 2019 to 2022, to be published in 2024.   

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, said: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of a dentist whilst they were under investigation. We are committed to reflecting and learning lessons where we can and are developing a process to undertake a serious incident review when we become aware that someone has died while subject to a fitness to practise investigation.

“We want to build and maintain trust between us and the dental professionals we regulate. Minimising stress experienced in the fitness to practise process is one way to do that and we have a number of improvements underway. Reporting the causes of death of registrants will also improve transparency. However, balancing transparency with the public interest, our responsibilities as a regulator and the impact on dental professionals requires consideration of different perspectives and views in order to ensure constructive discussion about what are often difficult and sensitive issues.”  

Read the full update on the GDC’s website

Dental Leadership Network focuses on maintaining an effective workforce fit for the future

Dental sector leaders got together to discuss the issue of maintaining an effective and lasting workforce, at the Dental Leadership Network event, in London, on Thursday 14 March.  

The event builds on the success of previous Dental Leadership Network events, bringing together stakeholders from across the sector.    

There were presentations by Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar, Nursing and Midwifery Council, , who spoke about their role, values and culture and what can be learned from another healthcare regulator. Ashley Byrne, Head of Communications & Board Member, Dental Laboratories Association, addressed the challenges facing dental technology.  

Panel discussions featured representatives from the College of General Dentistry, General Dental Council (GDC), NHS England and the British Dental Association (BDA), among others.  

There were keynote addresses from Theresa Thorp, GDC Executive Director, Regulation and Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy.  

Theresa Thorp focussed on dental workforce challenges and provided key insights from the GDC’s work pattern data exercise.  

Stefan Czerniawski spoke about provisional registration and what it might mean for the Dental Leadership Network.   

The Dental Leadership Network plays a role in sharing information and building relationships to create a better understanding of everyone’s remit, priorities and shared challenges and in encouraging collaboration and ownership to address these shared challenges. 

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy, said: “It’s really valuable for leaders across the dental sector to invest time in discussing the shared issues that affect us all and, most importantly, patients. Collaboration and ownership only works if the whole of the dental world is engaged – and it was really heartening to see strong interest and support from the Dental Leadership Network to get involved in challenges including workforce, retention and provisional registration.”

General Dental Council publishes dental workforce pattern data

The General Dental Council (GDC) has published data about the working patterns of dentists.   

This work follows the regulator’s commitment last year to play its part in supporting the sector to better understand its workforce challenges and illuminate the public debate on the dental workforce.    

The GDC’s research has already shown that the dental workforce was under pressure and patients’ access to NHS dentistry was affected.   

The regulator worked with stakeholders to understand the workforce information that would be of value to them. As a result of the feedback, the GDC asked a small number of additional voluntary questions, as part of the dentist annual renewal process.    

As part of their annual renewal, 25,159 (57%) dentists responded to the work patterns survey, of which 24,152 (55%) were working in the UK dental sector.    

The key highlights show that of the responding dentists:   

  • The majority (85%) spend at least 75% of their time in clinical practice, and a further 10% say they undertake a mix of clinical and non-clinical work
  • 19% said they provided only private care, with no NHS, and a further 14% said they predominantly provided private care (over 75% of their time)
  • Only 15% are fully NHS, with no private care, and a further 27% said they are predominantly NHS (over 75% of their time)
  • 42% said they were working 30 hours a week or less
  • 38% regularly work in more than one location
  • 9% are working as specialists

The data, published today, includes information on the proportion of dentists who are providing NHS care and private care, whether they are working in clinical or non-clinical roles, and how many hours they are working.   

The information is from data collected from dentists only. A similar exercise to collect work pattern data for dental care professionals (DCPs) is planned as part of the DCP annual renewal process later this year.   

The data has been published at a UK level and has been broken down to an individual country level, where possible, to support workforce planning discussions across the four nations. Further analyses, including a more detailed picture of where dentists work, will be published later in the year.  

The GDC believes that having a better understanding of how dental professionals are working throughout the UK will provide important insight into the issues affecting dental professionals and patients.    

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, said:  “We now know more about dentists’ working patterns than ever before. For the first time, there is now a rich picture of where dentists work, the balance between private and NHS practice, and the balance between clinical and non-clinical roles and activities, across the four nations of the UK.  

“I would like to thank every one of the 25,159 dentists whose data allowed us to build up this picture and all the organisations who helped us shape the questions and encouraged participation. This new data provides a firm foundation for better understanding how dentists are working across the UK. It provides important insights into the issues affecting dental professionals and patients.  We are confident that it will support planning and decision making by health services, governments, dental providers – and of course dental professionals themselves – to help ensure that patients get the care they need.  

“Later this year, we will invite dental care professionals to provide their data when they renew their registration, giving us a complete picture for the whole dental team.”

The GDC is ready with new rules and fees for international registration from 9 March

The General Dental Council (GDC) has agreed new rules from 9 March for registration of internationally-qualified dentists and dental care professionals, and a new application processing fee for overseas-qualified dentists who want to sit the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE).

The application processing fee has been set, in line with the regulator’s fees policy, at a level that covers the cost of processing only, which is when the GDC carries out checks on qualifications, character, clinical experience and English language competence before adding someone to the ORE candidate list.

The GDC proposed introducing an ORE application processing fee in its consultation on international routes to registration for dentists and dental care professionals, a suggestion that was supported by a majority of respondents.

ORE candidates currently pay an examination fee for each sitting of the ORE, including any retakes. The GDC will be holding examination fees at current levels until the end of this year, under transitional arrangements which end on 31 December 2024 around the time that the current ORE contracts end. These examination fees were set at their current levels nine years ago.

New examination fees will be in place from 1 January 2025 based on recovery of current costs. It may be necessary to revise examination fees when new contracts are in place in 2025 to ensure that the revised fees align with new contract arrangements. 

In the past year, the GDC has established new rules for the registration of internationally-qualified dentists and dental care professionals, tripled the number of ORE Part 1 places, increased capacity in the ORE Part 2 by a third and gathered evidence from stakeholders to inform the future delivery of effective, robust and timely exams. Public safety and confidence in dental professions remains the GDC’s primary concern. 

A procurement exercise for new ORE contracts is about to begin with early engagement with potential suppliers underway in what is now a new market, made possible as a result of the legislation changes last year which removed the previous financial and supplier constraints.

Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said: “The aim of these reforms is to create a modern system of international registration which is fair to applicants, efficient to deliver, and above all is rigorous in protecting patients. 

“This marks an important step on the way to a comprehensive framework for international registration, but there is still more to do with a complex combination of legislative, contractual and operational changes needed to support the current and future demand for registration.”

GDC announces departure of Executive Director, Legal and Governance, Lisa-Marie Williams

After eight years with the GDC, Lisa-Marie Williams – Executive Director, Legal and Governance – will be stepping down at the end of March, to join Buckinghamshire Council to lead their Legal and Democratic services teams. 

The role fulfilled by the Executive Director, Legal and Governance in a regulator is very important and brings professionalism and pragmatism in the face of often outdated legislation, working within the constraints but looking for opportunities to ensure patients are safe, and always acting in the interests of public protection and the public interest. Interim measures are being put in place until a successor is appointed.  

Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said: “I would like to thank Lisa-Marie for her significant work in transforming the GDC’s Legal and Governance functions and for her contribution to the Executive team. We wish her well for the future.” 

Total number of registered UK dentists increases following recent renewal

The number of dentists on the UK Register, following the recent annual renewal period, has increased when compared to recent years. 

On the morning after removals, there were 44,209 dentists on the Register. This is a 2.5% increase compared to last year with 1,079 more dentists on the register. 

This year, 1,003 dentists did not renew their registration, which is 2.3% of those on the Register on 31 December. This compares to an average of 2.6% over the previous four years. 

  1. The Register is constantly changing. This figure includes ARF payments, restorations, fitness to practise retentions and new additions to the Register (between 1 and 5 January 2024).
  2. Register count in week following the renewal period.
  3. Reasons for removal include voluntary removal, non-payment, retirement, and notifications of death. 

These figures provide a useful benchmark for the total number of dentists registered in the UK. 

While the GDC (General Dental Council) recognises there are important issues of concern, including access to NHS dental services and significant ongoing recruitment challenges in some areas, it is important to note that this data does not provide insight into the number of professionals working in different patterns (e.g. full time vs part time), how many dentists are working in NHS services compared to private practice, local workforce conditions, or the numbers of professionals working in different roles (e.g. academic). 

However, for the first time, as part of the dentists’ renewal process in 2023, the GDC has gathered data about the work dentists do, including the number of hours they are working, whether they are working in the NHS or privately, and in clinical or non-clinical roles. These figures will be published once the analysis is complete.   

While the register is constantly changing, what we invariably see (for both the dentist and dental care professional registers) is that over the course of the year, the number of registered professionals increases due to new registrations, and then that number drops at the point of renewal as professionals leave the Register for a range of reasons. 

The GDC publishes  monthly registration reports, which provides further information. 

Professional Standards Authority publishes its 2022/23 GDC performance review

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has today published its report on the GDC’s performance for the period 2022/23, which concluded we met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation. 

There was positive recognition for the GDC’s engagement with stakeholders and response to the backlog of applications from overseas dental professionals. The GDC tripled the number of places for Part 1 of the Overseas Registration Exam from this year and has increased the number of Part 2 sittings from three to four in 2024. 

The PSA found that Standards 11 and 15 were not met, specifically the parts of those standards relating to the respective timely resolution of registration and fitness to practise cases.

The changes to legislation to register dental professionals who qualify overseas prompted a surge of applications and the GDC recruited a large team of additional people and external associates to process and assess applications, and the backlog is now starting to reduce. 

The PSA noted that registration applications for UK-qualified dental professionals showed recent improvement. As an indication of the increased workload, the GDC is on course to register more new dental professionals this year than ever before, with 117,983 professionals on the register (as of 30 September 2023). 

There has been a long-term issue that GDC fitness to practise cases often take too long to resolve. The GDC has increased the size of the casework team, streamlined processes, improved guidance to reduce delays and, with support from stakeholders, is undertaking a pilot to enable single clinical issues to be resolved more quickly, while continuing to effectively maintain public safety and confidence in the dental profession.    

These reforms reflect the GDC’s determination to make improvements to the fitness to practise process where it can, ahead of any potential regulatory reform. It is also hoped that improved timeliness and proportionality will reduce the impact of fitness to practise investigations on the health and wellbeing of those involved. 

Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said: “We are making very real improvements to the fitness to practise process. It is disappointing that the effects are not yet visible in the performance data, although this is an inevitable consequence of managing down a backlog of old cases with the measure of timeliness only crystallising at the point of completion. For registration, UK applications are now being processed within the target time and the backlog of international applications is falling steadily as a result of increasing processing capacity.”

Interim Orders Committee updated guidance published

The GDC has today published updated guidance for the Interim Orders Committee, part of the independent Dental Professionals Hearings Service. 


The GDC’s public consultation held earlier this year proposed updates to the Interim Orders Committee guidance and supporting documents. These changes will promote consistency in the approach to immediate risks to public safety and confidence and support decision-making that is proportionate and appropriate to the risks posed.

The Interim Orders Committee is responsible for considering and controlling immediate and serious risks to public safety and confidence. It does this through assessing risk, and deciding whether it is necessary to restrict a dental professional’s registration to protect the public, patients or the registrant concerned while an investigation takes place. The revisions to the guidance support proportionality, consistency and timeliness in decision making by the committee. 

Data shows that, of the 146 cases presented to the Interim Orders Committee for the first time in 2022, interim conditions were placed on a dental professional’s registration in 51 cases and 42 interim suspensions were imposed. It was determined that 53 did not pose an immediate or serious risk, so no order was imposed.

The updated guidance and supporting documents will come into effect on 18 December and will be of particular interest to independent fitness to practise panellists, those who are subject to an Interim Orders Committee hearing or review, and lawyers and advisers who represent dental professionals.  

The improvements give additional weight to the seriousness of concerns relating to sexual assault, harassment and violence. Additional guidance has also been provided on adjournments and postponements to ensure hearings on issues which potentially pose immediate and serious risks are not delayed unnecessarily. 

This is another of the improvements to the GDC’s fitness to practise processes that the regulator is committed to making, within its legislative constraints, to promote timely decisions that are fair, consistent and proportionate. 

The GDC consulted with stakeholders from November 2022 to February 2023. The results, including details of the changes made as a result of the consultation exercise, are set out in the consultation outcome report.  

Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said: “We have made necessary improvements to these proposed documents with the support of our stakeholders. We want to thank those who reviewed these documents and provided detailed and constructive responses. The updated guidance will support consistent and proportionate decision making by the Committee, while securing public safety and the high levels of public confidence in the dental professions.”

Dental Leadership Network focuses on the system from patients’ and the public’s perspective

Now an established forum after four events, the Dental Leadership Network brought together leaders from across dentistry to discuss the dental system, as seen from the perspective of patients and the public.

The primary goal of the Dental Leadership Network is to bring dental leaders together to share information and build relationships, improve understanding of everyone’s remit and encourage collaboration to resolve shared challenges.

The event was opened by Joanne Rewcastle, GDC Associate Director, Communications and Engagement, who shared feedback about the Network’s objectives and suggestions for future priorities and topics.

This was followed by a keynote presentation by Jacob Lant, Chief Executive of National Voices, who gave a cautionary tale about NHS dentistry from 2014 to today and the positive opportunities for progress and change.

Rachel Lopata, Chief Executive of Community Research, spoke about the latest research from the GDC into patients’ and the public’s experience of dentistry.

Representatives from across the sector then joined a panel discussion on the challenges facing patients as they navigate the system, facilitated by John Cullinane, GDC Executive Manager, Hearings.

The panellists were Fiona Sandom, Chair of the British Association of Dental Therapists, Dominic Innes-Taylor, Clinical Fellow, Office of the Chief Dental Officer, England, Gill Harding, Director of Communications, DentAid and Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy.

The GDC’s Chair, Lord Toby Harris, shared his thoughts on how patients and the public experience dental services and why the Dental Leadership Network matters, before the event was closed by Paul Cushley, Dental Director, NHS National Services Scotland.

The GDC’s Chair, Lord Toby Harris, said:

“We need to listen to the perspectives of others. That is what the Dental Leadership Network is about – and today we have been listening, engaging and focusing on the patient and public perspective. We all want patients to receive the safe and effective oral healthcare they need. We are all united on that.”

The full text of the GDC’s Chair’s keynote is available here.

The objectives are:

  • Share information and build relationships
  • Create a better understanding of everyone’s remit, priorities and shared challenges
  • Encourage collaboration and ownership to resolve shared challenges