BDA attacks GDC over high retention fee

BDA attacks GDC over high retention fee

The BDA has responded to an article that appeared on the Dentistry.co.uk website entitled an interview with Ian Brack in which the GDC Chief Executive revealed the Annual Retention Fee will remain unchanged at £890 in 2019. BDA Chair, Mick Armstrong said: “When the budget for 2019 hasn’t even been formally agreed by the Council, it is not a good look for the GDC’s Chief Executive to unveil the figures in this manner”.

The Council has not yet published its evaluation and response to the consultation on the ARF for 2019. The BDA says the profession’s trust in the regulator remains as low as ever due to its approach to fee setting and handling – and continuing lack of transparency. Fees remain the highest of all the UK health regulators and continue to be used to top-up reserves, well beyond the regulator’s own stated requirements. 

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “The £890 ARF symbolises the GDC’s cavalier disregard for the profession it regulates, offering new excuses when the old ones have worn thin. We require a regulator prepared to live within its means, willing to approach upstreaming and contingency planning with a cool head. Instead we have a body that puts padding out war chests above all else".

“We have long argued that the GDC’s approach to its reserves is fundamentally flawed, but even by their own measure, they now exceed their required need. The levels of uncertainty are the same for all the regulators, yet nobody else seems to be arguing in this way. The Overseas Registration Exam  – and any new approach to registering EU nationals if necessary - should be self-financing. Yes, there may be overheads, but the bottom line is existing registrants should not have to fund registration costs for new registrants. It is simply not a good enough excuse to hoard our cash".

“When the budget for 2019 hasn’t even been formally agreed by the Council, it is not a good look for the GDC’s Chief Executive to unveil the figures in this manner. The serious concerns about transparency that we keep raising continue and increase. The ARF hasn’t changed, and neither has this profession’s trust or confidence in its regulator. The case for a significant fee cut remains, a coherent argument for a freeze has not been offered".

In the interview with Dentistry website editor, Seb Evans, Mr Brack said he understood how registrants felt and ‘we want to bring the costs down and we’re doing what we can’. It’s probably not a bad characterisation of what the last four/five years looked like for registrants.

However there were a lot of costs still in the system from the spike in the caseload of complaints. Although the caseload level is falling, cases that go to full hearing ‘typically last between one and two years’ and the main cost is incurred in the final third of case lifetimes ‘so there’s still cost in the system from that caseload’.

In addition there was a great deal of uncertainty about leaving the EU and the financial implications of this for the GDC.

Mr Brack conclude by saying he would be ‘delighted when I’m sitting here and we’ve managed to reduce the ARF. But I also would say that the risks are real, they are there, and I do have to plan for them. It’s frustrating because we’ve made real progress, but it’s the right thing to do.’

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