GDC raises ARF levels for NHS dentists

UK: A higher ARF level for 2023 has been made public by the GDC. The new fee for dentists will be £690, representing a 1.5% rise, and £114 for dental care professionals.

The GDC Council on Friday (October 21) authorized the regulator’s three-year strategy following a public consultation earlier this year. In the midst of significant economic uncertainties, the GDC has also decided on the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) level for 2023. The ARF will increase by 1.5% to £690 for dentists and by £114 for dental care workers (no increase). The increase for dentists is much less than the inflation rate of 10.1% (CPI, 12 months to September 2022). The ARF level for both dentists and dental care professionals is lower than the GDC anticipated when it conducted its summer debate on the plans.

The regulator successfully reduced rates by carefully controlling costs and, when practical, absorbing the effects of inflation, as it promised to do when it laid out its expenditure plans. In light of this unpredictability, Council established fees at a level that will allow the GDC to continue to fulfil its legal obligations to uphold patient safety and public confidence while wisely managing the financial risks brought on by significant and unstable inflationary pressures.

Lord Toby Harris, chair of the GDC, said: “I’d want to thank everyone who offered their opinions with us on our plans for the next three years. We have taken into account these comments and anticipate releasing our final strategy in the upcoming months. Some of the input was connected to the fees we charge, and we’re incredibly happy to have been able to tackle our own costs further and deliver a lower ARF for dental professionals in 2023 than we originally predicted. We must be financially viable to ensure that our statutory obligations are met. The reputation of the professions is partly supported by regulation, so that is not the only reason we need to keep going. I think dental professionals benefit greatly from regulation”.

The GDC cautioned that due to significant and sustained inflation, it might be necessary to raise the ARF in 2024 and 2025. The level of the fee will be less guaranteed in the years to come, but this strategy allowed the GDC to make a responsible provision for inflation while keeping 2023 expenses as low as possible for dental professionals. If more inflation-related price increases are required, the regulator agrees to keep them to a maximum of the inflation rate while scrutinizing its own costs.

“In the current uncertain and unpredictable economic situation, it’s crucial that we manage financial risks, particularly those related to inflation,” said Ian Brack, Chief Executive and Registrar of the GDC. The maintenance of patient safety and public confidence is our key responsibility, and we are certain that our spending plans will allow us to carry out this duty. 

Despite our commitment to active cost management, we may eventually need to raise the level of the fee, as we have stated. Any such increase will, at most, correspond to the current inflation rate or arise from other unusual and unforeseeable conditions. The GDC anticipates publishing the final strategy and consultation results in the upcoming months.


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