The General Dental Council (GDC) will not make changes to ARF payments in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it has confirmed.
The council decided not to amend or waive the annual retention fee (ARF) levels or introduce a payment scheme.
Chair of the GDC, Dr William Moyes, said: ‘The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant effect on our lives.
‘I am very aware that the effect of the suspension of routine dental care and services is severe. It has prevented you providing the patient treatment and care you want to. And in some cases, has caused financial difficulties.’
He added: ‘These are not decisions we have taken lightly. I know they won’t be welcomed by some of those we regulate. I want to be clear about the reasons why we have made them.’
Dr Moyes has listed the reasons for why the GDC decided not to make any changes:
- The work it does ‘has not fundamentally changed’. He says: ‘We are required to remain financially stable and to meet our statutory obligations. This is to ensure the public are protected and confidence in the professions is maintained.’
- Nearly all GDC income derives from ARF payments. It has been able to secure greater value for money and reduce the ARF in the past. This is through revising its regulatory approach and increasing efficiency
- ‘Significant uncertainty’ remains regarding the future. He says: ‘It is just too early to predict what is going to happen – to the sector as a whole or to the GDC. So, it would be imprudent to make changes which might not be sustainable, or which have the potential to add further risks or cost to what we do.’
Dr Moyes added: ‘In looking at the options available to us, we were also aware that even changes with very significant negative impacts on the GDC would make only a small difference to the level of the ARF.
‘Only the government is in a position to provide financial support to the professions. They have chosen to do so both through NHS contract arrangements and by more general support to employers and businesses.
‘I am very aware that the benefits of that have been felt unevenly, particularly by those outside the scope of NHS contract support. But the level of the ARF is not an effective way of addressing that issue.’
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