The year has been one of stability especially now the distraction of a single shared secretariat for health regulatory authorities is behind us.
No changes have been made to the Council membership, and we now have an experienced, wise and close-knit group that works well together. It certainly makes my job easier. Furthermore, only one change has been made to the secretariat staff, which is indicative of the stability there too. All of this means we have been able to move on with projects and the usual business with surety.
The Council has now received all the submissions from the first round of consultation for the Standards Framework. The make-up of the dental professional workforce has changed markedly in recent times. Over half of new dentist registrants are graduates from overseas and derive from societal backgrounds that are many and varied. We also have six different professions that come under the Council’s jurisdiction, all with different pathways of education and experience. The Standards Framework will determine the ethical principles that are expected of our diverse mix of practitioners.
Many of you will have noticed that consultations are an integral part of how the Council does business. We realise that, at times, there seems to be an endless succession of consultation documents, but it is a process we are obliged to follow. It is not a rapid way of doing business. Indeed, it can be rather pedestrian; due diligence, while thorough, seems to take an inordinate amount of time. We thank all stakeholders who take the time and effort to respond. I can assure you that each and every submission is taken seriously, with a systematic process of logging, categorising and analysing the comments. Of course, we do get conflicting responses and not everyone can be satisfied all of the time. Establishing the right balance in the best interests of the public is one of the challenges of regulation.
As indicated earlier, the dental community has become globally oriented and, as such, the Council has maintained an international perspective with its activities. The International Society of Dental Regulators (ISDR) is now well established, and its second conference met in London immediately before the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities. One of the functions of ISDR is to develop uniformity in areas such as education curricula, programme accreditation, risk management and qualification equivalency assessment. I am also pleased to advise that our chief executive, Marie Warner, is now the ISDR President. We have also worked closely with our Australian colleagues in two projects: developing competencies for dental specialists and accreditation standards. It was pleasing to note the extent of the contribution of New Zealand stakeholders in these two projects.
In the meantime, on the home front, routine business has continued. I would particularly like to thank Marie Warner and her secretariat staff for the dedicated work they put in to the smooth running of the Council, often working extra hours to meet deadlines. I would also like to thank my deputy, Dr Robin Whyman, and the other Council members for their valuable contributions during the year. We often have robust discussions around the Council table but always manage to achieve harmonious consensus decisions.
Finally, I would like to wish you all the compliments of the festive season. The dental business involves exacting and complex work that can be challenging and, at times, a little stressful. The Christmas holiday period is the time for relaxation, recreation and reflection with family and friends. Enjoy the break.