The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on the General Dental Council (GDC) to set a fee level for dentists of no more than £500 for 2016/17.
The GDC recently proposed to maintain the annual retention fee (ARF) for dentist registrants at £890, but the BDA has accused the Council of hoarding reserves that could be used to lower the fee.
The ARF for dental professionals, set by the GDC, is one of the highest rates paid by any comparable UK health profession, but analysis by the BDA has shown that with some simple savings the rate could be almost cut in half without affecting the financial stability of the GDC.
The BDA has also published legal advice indicating that the regulator’s consultation is potentially unlawful. The GDC was previously defeated in the High Court in judicial review proceedings over its handling of the consultation for the 2015/16 ARF.
Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said: “After defeat in the High Court we had hoped the GDC might actually have learned its lesson on transparency. Sadly the regulator has served up another fees consultation with a familiar line in disinformation and predetermined results.
“The regulator is continuing to overstep its remit, and is still expecting registrants to pay for that excess. So we have set out to identify straightforward and immediate savings that ensure that the GDC can deliver on its core functions.
“Our regulator has not offered any clear justification for maintaining gargantuan reserves at our expense. Keeping £10m of fees set aside for the rainy day its own models suggests will never come isn’t ‘prudence’ or ‘best practice’, it’s simple hoarding. The GDC could now ensure both fair fees and its own financial security through a realistic policy.
“Setting the annual retention fee at no more than £500 for 2016 would send the clearest possible signal that the GDC is finally prepared to live within its means and focus on its day job. It’s time to dispense with the war chests and the empire building, and get regulation right.”