General Dental Council invites views on future development of CPD


The General Dental Council (GDC) has today published Shaping the direction of lifelong learning for dental professionals, which invites ideas, comments and views on the short and long-term future of professional learning and development in dentistry.

The publication represents the next step on the journey towards achieving a more effective system of CPD, which began with commitments made in the regulator’s 2017 publication Shifting the balance and the introduction of the Enhanced CPD scheme in 2018. Since then, this journey has continued with the gathering of further information and evidence through stakeholder feedback, a systematic literature review on CPD and, most recently, through workshops with professional associations, educators and other regulators which took place earlier this year.

After building a robust base of evidence, the GDC says it ‘now wishes to explore ideas for developing the CPD scheme with dental professionals and stakeholders’ and that it is ‘opening a conversation about what meaningful CPD is, how it can be achieved, and what the obstacles might be that prevent dental professionals from accessing and undertaking it.’

GDC Head of GDC Policy and Research, Rebecca Cooper, said: “While Enhanced CPD made some good progress towards increasing professional ownership of CPD and placing greater emphasis on reflection and planning, we know a more supportive model of learning can be achieved to provide dental professionals with the information and tools they need to meet and maintain high professional standards and quality patient care.

“Some dental professionals feel that CPD is little more than a tick box exercise. Our proposals look at how we might move to a system that is flexible and responsive for the full range of dental professionals and where professionals can increasingly take responsibility for their own development, without the need for heavy-handed enforcement.

“This discussion document represents a significant milestone in achieving this goal and we really want to hear from as many people as possible about where lifelong learning should go from here.”

The discussion document is presented in three parts:

  • Part 1: A future model for lifelong learning - considers the future direction of travel for lifelong learning. It invites comments on a portfolio model and the merits of continuing with set CPD hour requirements.
  • Part 2: CPD practices – looks at CPD practices and how professionals can be encouraged to take up more high-value activities, such as peer learning and reflection.
  • Part 3: Informing CPD choices – asks about the insights and intelligence dental professionals refer to when selecting learning activities and how these can be improved and promoted.

Responses and views can be submitted online.


Editors Notes

Notes to Editor

  • The General Dental Council (GDC) is the UK-wide statutory regulator of just over 110,000 members of the dental team, including approximately 42,000 dentists and 70,000 dental care professionals. Our primary purpose is to protect patient safety and maintain public confidence in dental services. To achieve this, we register qualified dental professionals, set standards of dental practice, investigate complaints about dental professionals' fitness to practise, and work to ensure the quality of dental education. The Dentists Act 1984 provides the legislative framework for our work. For more information visit
  • In June 2019 the leaders of nine healthcare regulators published a joint statement on reflective practice to stress the benefits and importance of good reflective practice among professionals in the healthcare sector. Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner outlines the processes and advantages of good reflective practice for individuals and teams. For more information visit
  • Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation sets out the GDC’s proposals to reform dental regulation. It addresses out how we will work collaboratively with our partners to develop a model of upstream regulation that involves professionals and their regulator working together in the interests of patient safety and public protection. For more information about the Shifting the balance proposals visit
  • The Enhanced CPD scheme was introduced in 2018. CPD for dental professionals is defined in law as “learning, training or other developmental activities which can reasonably be expected to maintain and develop a person’s practice as a dentist or dental care professional and is relevant to the person’s field of practice”. CPD cannot be a one-size-fits-all - to be effective it must to be tailored to the individual’s needs. Enhanced CPD is designed to be flexible, so activity can be planned to suit the individual’s professional needs across their five-year cycle. For more information visit



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The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

Visit for more information.

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