The General Dental Council (GDC) is pleased that the Department of Health has recognised the need for urgent change to streamline its fitness to practise processes with the announcement of its intention to publish a Section 60 Order.
By means of this Order, the GDC can amend its current legislation (The Dentists Act 1984) to allow it to introduce a key change – case examiners – aimed at improving the speed of decision making in the interests of patient protection and reducing costs.
The GDC’s complaints caseload has increased by more than 100% since 2011.
In the first quarter of 2014 it received 846 complaints (a 5.49% increase on the same period in 2013). This decision by the Department of Health is a significant step forward in allowing real improvements to be made to how the GDC manages the complaints it receives.
It is expected that the Order will be in place by May 2015.
Chief executive and registrar of the GDC, Evlynne Gilvarry, said: ‘The GDC recognised in 2011 that it needed to make significant changes to its fitness to practise processes. The ongoing increase in complaints, at around 110% in the last three years, has made this an ever more pressing issue.
‘We are extremely pleased that the Department of Health has made this decision. At the same time we are working hard to make operational improvements to the way we handle cases and this is a key priority going forward.’
In addition, a separate S60 Order will introduce a requirement for all practising healthcare professionals to have appropriate indemnity or insurance cover as a condition of professional registration.
Furthermore, the Department of Health also intends to commence work on a S60 Order, enabling the GDC to introduce proportionate language controls for dentists coming to work in the UK from within the EEA.