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									Protocols Governing Council’s Methods of Working

Agenda management and preparation for meetings

Publication of Council meeting dates, agendas and papers 1.1 The Council will approve in advance of each calendar year dates for its meetings the following year. The schedule of meetings will be published in the Council’s Gazette and on the Council’s website. A press notice will be issued in advance of each meeting. After Council agendas and papers have been sent to members, they will be published on the Council’s website. The staff will do this where possible 2 working days after papers being despatched to members. If any items are designated for discussion in closed session, the agenda should still refer to the subject matter and should state why the paper is to be considered in closed session (if this is possible without compromising the confidentiality of the item itself), but the item concerned will not be published on the website. The protocol at 1.10 of these rules should be followed in taking decisions on whether or not items are discussed in closed session. Some papers may require decisions on options and policy: these can be categorised as for action papers. Other papers may require a decision that an area of delegated work is proceeding satisfactorily: these may be categorised as papers for report. Where background information may be of general use to Council members in discharging their duties, this can be distributed independently of Council meetings, but will not normally appear on Council agendas unless, in the judgement of the President in consultation with the Registrar, it is in the public interest for Council to receive the paper as a body in public. No paper shall be put before the Council unless it contains an explanation of the diversity, communications, resource and legal implications arising from the subject matter of the paper. If Council members require further information on the content of a paper they should approach the named staff contact on the front sheet of the paper in advance of the meeting, wherever practicable. Papers or oral presentations may be presented to Council by the President, Committee Chair, other Committee members, or a member of staff. The President will determine who should present papers or oral presentations, in consultation with the Committee Chair (if any) or the








Registrar. The President may invite staff to speak to issues at Council meetings. 1.9 A summary of decisions taken at Council meetings will be published on the website after the meeting, and minutes and transcripts will be made available on request. Availability of transcripts to persons other than members of Council will be subject to payment of the cost of producing copies.

Closed session/confidential items at Council and Committee meetings 1.10 Agenda items should not be considered in closed session unless:

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there is a legal requirement to maintain confidence public disclosure would prejudice the effective discharge of the Council’s functions it is not in the public interest for the item to be considered openly.

Examples of where such a decision might be taken include where an item concerns: legal advice or any issue relating to legal proceedings which is being contemplated or instituted by or against the Council; details of an action being taken to prevent or detect crime; information provided in confidence by a third party, or personal information on an individual who has not given consent for disclosure; information relating to a registrant, former registrant or applicant for registration; information relating to current and former employees, holders and applicants for any post or office; office

negotiations or consultation concerning labour relations between the Council and its employees; the terms of, or expenditure under, a tender or contract for the procurement of goods or services or the acquisition or disposal of property.

Management of agenda setting 1.11 Council will be asked to approve the draft items of business for its agendas six months in advance. The prioritisation of agenda items should be in line with the strategic goals Council has identified in its 5year strategic plan, and the annual business plan. Priorities may have to change between meetings, if circumstances change and action becomes more urgent on a particular issue, for example.



Prioritising the Council agenda, while the final responsibility of the President in consultation with the Registrar, should be informed by the advice of Committee Chairs, Secretaries and relevant staff. Committee Secretaries will convey the identified priorities of their Committees to the Registrar on behalf of the Committee Chair. The Registrar (with Committee Secretaries and other relevant staff) should take responsibility for drafting the forward planning of Council agendas in the first instance, for approval by the President. A sixmonth forward plan of agenda content would then put to Council for its approval. Any urgent matter which arises, or any item which, because of a change in circumstances, should be (a) brought forward on the Council’s agenda, or (b) put back on the agenda, should be referred to the Registrar in the first instance with reasons. The Registrar will then discuss potential implications for the agenda with Committee Secretaries, who will relay any implications relevant to the work of their Committee to their Committee Chairs.

1.13 1.14


Council decisions 1.16 Where a decision is required of Council, Council must always consider:

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The Council’s aims and objectives; The Council’s stated priorities for the delivery of those aims and objectives (in the business plan), including whether or not those priorities should change; The potential impact on resources and Council time; Any diversity, communications, and legal implications.

Committee meeting dates, agendas and papers 1.17 Committees are required to meet only if the amount of business or the urgency of the business justifies it. The Chair is responsible for deciding whether or not this is the case. In practice, given the difficulty of arranging meetings at short notice, Committees should schedule a number of meetings in the calendar for each year (based on expectation of workload) and, in the process of agenda setting for each meeting, consider whether the amount or urgency of business to deal with justifies holding a meeting. The protocol at 1.10 above in relation to confidentiality of Council papers also applies to Committee papers, except that it will be the responsibility of the Committee Chair and Secretary to determine whether confidentiality is justified. Where background information may be of general use to Committee members in discharging their duties, this can be distributed 3



independently of Committee meetings but will not normally appear on Committee agendas. 1.20 Where a Committee’s remit requires it to submit a matter to Council for decision, the Committee is responsible for researching the diversity, communications, legal and resource implications of the matter and ensuring that an explanation of these implications is included in the paper to Council. Responsibility for presenting papers and presentations to Committees should be shared between members (of the Committee) and staff. While decision-making rests with Committee members, staff should be encouraged to speak to issues at Committee meetings. Responsibility for preparation of papers and presentations for Committee (and papers and presentations for Council from the Committee) rests with the Committee Secretary. Committee agendas and papers will be published on the Council website in advance of meetings. The staff will do this where possible 2 working days after papers being despatched to members. Minutes will be published on the website after meetings, subject to the protocol on confidentiality of items at 1.10 above.




Management of Committee agenda setting 1.24 Committees should, at least once a year, produce a forward work plan. This should outline the Committee’s own aims and objectives and priorities for the delivery of its work, taking into account the Council’s strategic goals and the annual business plan. The Committee Chair and Secretary should carry out a similar exercise of prioritisation for the Committee agenda as the President and Registrar in relation to the Council agenda, balancing the issues for discussion against the priorities in the forward work plan. The primary role of each Committee is to carry out its remit as set out by Council. Members should be free to propose additional items for consideration so long as these are in line with the Council’s aims and objectives and with the Committee’s area of work. The final decision on whether such issues should be included on a Committee’s agenda lies with the Committee Chair, in consultation with the secretary, taking account of competing priorities.



Committee decisions 1.27 The same principles apply to Committee decisions as apply to Council decisions, in relation to ensuring an audit trail and taking into account relevant considerations (see 1.16 above). The responsibility for adherence to these protocols by Committees lies with the Chair and the Committee Secretary.


Responsibilities of individual Committee members 1.28 This applies to all members of Committees (whether or not they are also members of Council).

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To comply with the Council’s Code of Conduct when carrying out Committee business; To alert the Committee to any developments known to them which could affect the Committee’s area of the GDC’s work; To attend any training or briefing events organised by the staff on the work of the Committee.

Members or advisers to Committees from outside the Council’s membership should be offered briefing, support and wherever possible, training similar to that provided by Council members on Committees, so that these individuals are provided with an understanding of the work of the Council and, more importantly, its approach and hence the context in which they are been asked to advise/participate.

Role of Committee Secretaries in relation to Committees 1.30 It is the role of the Committee Secretary to:

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Draft Committee papers and ensure that questions being put to the Committee are expressed clearly Assemble and analyse information for use by the Committee Organise meetings and other events Produce agendas, documents papers, minutes, reports and other

Ensure that the Committee’s decisions and advice are clearly communicated to those who need to act on it Provide procedural and policy advice and support to the Committee Chair Alert the Committee to any developments known to them which could affect the Committee’s area of the GDC’s work.

It is the Secretary’s role, in collaboration with the Chair, to ensure that the Committee’s workload is managed and that members have access to all relevant information on each topic they are dealing with. The Secretary is also responsible for monitoring follow-up actions arising from the Committee’s activities. This involves reporting regularly to the Committee on issues such as the progress of actions that have been based on the Committee’s decisions/advice, and the emergence of new evidence that might affect previous advice issued by the Committee. 5


Cross-Committee communication 1.33 It is the responsibility of Committee Chairs and Secretaries to be alert to, and to respond to links between the work of their respective Committees and others. A Committee Chair may consider inviting a representative from another Committee to attend a meeting or meetings for this purpose, subject to there being sufficient budgetary provision. If there is not sufficient budgetary provision, the Committee will have to seek Council approval. Exceptionally, where a significant issue cuts across the work of Committees, and subject to budget, it might be necessary for there to be a meeting or sequence of meetings of representatives of the Committees involved to resolve how the issue will be dealt with and the impact on their respective areas of work. A Committee has the option of referring an aspect of a question to another Committee for its advice.




Additional methods of progressing ideas for policy development 1.37 Council members will have an opportunity to suggest future items for Council’s agenda at the end of each Council meeting, and Committee members also have the opportunity to raise additional items for the agenda of their Committee, subject to such suggestions being in line with the Council’s aims and objectives. There should be a further channel for both members and staff to feed in new ideas for policy development, where these ideas do not readily fall within the remit of a Committee. A central “ideas pool” for initiatives from members and staff should be managed by the Registrar. The diagram and text below shows how the protocol at 1.39 might work in practice but is not intended to be prescriptive.




Stage 1:Owner submits idea to ideas pool.

Stage 2: Preliminary screening by Council which decides if: (a): Idea to be looked at in more detail Stage 3: Council briefs Committee or staff to research further (b): Council notes to revisit idea at a later date

Council notes to review idea at a later date

Stage 4: Idea comes back to Council for decision on whether or not to pursue

Stage 1: The owner of the idea should make a submission to the ideas pool (which should be no more than two sides of A4 in length). The submission should set out how the proposed policy would fulfil the Council’s aims and objectives and why, in the owner’s view, further development of the idea would be justified. The Registrar could consult or make inquiries, if necessary; Stage 2: The President and Registrar would add the idea to the Council’s agenda (where it would go would depend on the Council’s priorities) for a preliminary consideration by Council of whether or not the idea would merit further investigation and if so, the level of priority the investigation should have (against the Council’s aims and objectives and business plan), and who should be responsible for carrying out the investigation (e.g. a Committee); Stage 3: The investigation itself should include an analysis of the potential resource, communications, diversity and legal implications of the idea. Once the investigation is complete, the idea should be returned to Council; Stage 4: The Council would then take a decision whether, in the light of the more detailed information it now has, the policy should be developed or not, and if so how best to take the development of the policy forward. 2. 2.1

Subject to the provisions of the Act, the Council may delegate to any Committee any function properly exercisable by the Council, and may impose conditions upon the exercise of such functions.



Wherever the Council delegates responsibility for decision-making, it shall, in doing so: a. b. c. d. e. Specify the scope of the matters delegated Specify those to whom the matters have been delegated Specify the resources available to those to whom the function has been delegated Specify the nature and frequency of reports to the Council by those to whom decision making power has been delegated Specify a date by which the Council will review the powers delegated


In relation to any powers delegated to the Chief Executive and his or her staff, and in relation to the Chief Executive’s exercise of his or her responsibilities under the Dentists Act and for the day to day administration of the Council, the Council shall specify the nature and frequency of the reports which it requires from the Chief Executive on the exercise of his or her functions. All delegated authority will be set out in a Scheme of Delegation.

2.4 3. 3.1

Cycle of reporting to Council
Committees should report to Council on their work on an annual basis. Council will receive Committee minutes regularly, but on an annual basis should carry out a review as specified in 3.2 below. Council should review annually:


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whether it is satisfied that its Committees are carrying out the exercise of delegated authority satisfactorily whether there is a continued need for the current Committees to exist whether any alteration to an existing Committee’s remit or membership is necessary whether any additional Committees or working groups are needed what to do if a Committee is not carrying out the exercise of delegated authority satisfactorily e.g. reconstitute the Committee, abolish the Committee and draw back into the Council’s remit the area of work concerned.


It is suggested that Council’s Committees do not all report to Council at the same time, to enable a thorough consideration of Committee reports by Council and to prevent disruption of Council’s other business. Instead, a cycle should be instituted to stagger the reporting of Committees e.g. Registration Committee’s reporting year runs from 8

January to January, Finance and Human Resources Committee’s from March to March etc. Committees’ own review of performance 3.4 Annually, prior to their report to Council and to inform the content of that report, Committees should set aside time to review their own performance against the objectives in their forward work plans. Committees will need to look at:

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Their achievements against their forward work plan Whether they have satisfactorily carried out their responsibility to ensure that Council receives sound advice and evaluation to determine its policies and action The impact of any inability to meet the targets in the work plan and the lessons that can be learned for the future The efficacy of the Committee’s relationship with stakeholders Whether there are any outstanding training needs in respect of the Committee’s membership and if so, how these are to be addressed.


Committee reports should be produced in an agreed format, and should cover:


Measurement of the achievements of the Committee against each aspect of its work plan, to include reasons why the Committee has been unable to deliver any product in the work plan where this is the case, and the impact of this on the Council’s work; Costs incurred by the Committee; How it has interacted with stakeholders; Committee members’ attendance record; Its proposed forward work plan for the following year.

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Reporting of Working Groups 3.6 Reporting of Working Groups should depend on the lifespan of the Working Group concerned e.g. if a Working Group is given a lifespan of 2 years, and depending on the subject matter, Council may want to receive an interim report (at 1 year) and a final report (at 2 years). Council should specify the lifespan of each of its Working Groups now, with reference to its priorities and aims and objectives. Working Groups are intended to be a less formal working environment than Committees, and do not have responsibility for taking decisions on behalf of the Council, but they remain as accountable for the delivery of 9


their remits and should review their performance and produce reports in accordance with the protocols above at 3.4 and 3.5. 4. 4.1 4.2 4.3

Corporate planning
Council will approve a rolling five-year strategic plan and financial plan, and annually review its overall performance against that plan. Council will also approve at the beginning of each year, an annual business plan drawn up by the Registrar. Committees will devise their own forward work plans, in line with the Council’s strategic plan and annual business plan.

5. 5.1

Register and Declaration of interests
The Council’s Register of Interests should be published on the Council’s website. The Register should, in addition to Council members, cover any non-Council members serving on Committees or Working Groups, and members of the Fitness to Practise Panel. Members of Council are expected to act impartially and objectively, and to take steps to avoid any conflict of interest arising as a result of their membership of, or association with, other organisations or individuals. The aim of the register is not to satisfy curiosity but to support transparency and probity, and to maintain confidence in the regulatory process. Interests that may influence, or may be perceived to influence, a member’s ability to act impartially or objectively in carrying out Council business should be declared. Where the member is uncertain that an interest is relevant, it is preferable to make the declaration even if, in retrospect, the declaration was unnecessary. Examples of areas of interest that should be considered are: Posts held in the ordinary course of employment or practice;



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Sponsorships, awards or bursaries Membership of professional bodies, Royal Colleges, specialist societies, local dental committees, dental defence organisations, or other similar bodies in the public, private or voluntary sector, including any position held, such as membership of a committee or council; Membership of, or posts held in, local or national community organisations; Consultancies, directorships (including non-executive directorships), or advisory positions if they relate to a dental or other healthcare company or organisation, NHS Trust or authority, public body or political party;

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Freemasonry; Membership of a political party or pressure group; Shareholdings, stocks and trusts known to be held by a Member or anyone in their immediate family in companies whose business activities may be relevant to or conflict with the decisions and activities of the Council; Connection to any person or company that has a contractual arrangement for matters affected by GDC-business or is involved in tendering for such a contract.



Individuals should amend their entries in the register as soon as possible following any change in their circumstances, and will, in any event, be invited to update their entries each year.


Use of email and teleconferencing for the conduct of Council business
Using email and teleconferencing are attractive options for cost-saving, convenience and flexibility in the conduct of business. However, part of Council’s accountability as a public body is to debate issues for decision in public and it would not be appropriate for debate to take place “behind closed doors”. A balance will need to be struck between flexible working (tending to informality) and keeping decision-making within Council control. This will also be true of Committees where they are empowered to take decisions on authority delegated to them by Council. A note of business conducted by teleconference must be taken which provides an audit trail of the issues discussed and the decisions taken.


6.2 6.3


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