GDC launches consultation on changes to the Fitness to Practise process

shutterstock_61100620The General Dental Council (GDC) is consulting on a key change that, if approved, it claims will significantly improve its Fitness to Practise processes.

The consultation on the Fitness to Practise rules opened recently on Monday 17 November 2014, and will close on 12 January 2015.

You can respond here.

The GDC is responsible for ensuring that every dental professional registered to work in the UK is suitable to be registered and meets its professional standards; one of the ways in which it does this is by investigating complaints or concerns about the fitness to practise of registrants.

Since 2010, the GDC claims there has been a 110% increase in the number of complaints about GDC registrants.

The GDC has been campaigning for legislative change to be able to update what it says are outdated processes that prove a significant limitation when dealing with an increasing caseload.

The proposed changes include:

Introduction of case examiners

Case examiners will be able to carry out some of the decision-making functions that are currently performed by the Investigating Committee.

The advantages of introducing case examiners will be an increase in the speed and agility with which decisions can be made – improving the process for both the registrants and patients involved.

The GDC anticipates that the introduction of case examiners could save £2m a year based on current caseloads.

The power to agree undertakings with registrants

This would enable the GDC to address concerns about a registrant’s fitness to practise without referring the case to a final practice hearing by inviting a practitioner to agree to comply with undertakings – for example to carry out certain activities (such as training), or to refrain from particular aspects of practice until retraining has been completed.

A new requirement on the GDC to seek representations from dental professionals before issuing a warning

If the GDC is minded to issue a registrant with a warning, it will be required to seek the registrant’s representations before confirming whether or not to issue the warning.

These proposed amendments are part of a wide range of efficiency measures, the GDC is introducing, aimed at helping to improve efficiency in Fitness to Practise and enhance the protection of the public it claims.

The GDC will consult on more detailed guidance relating to some of the issues associated with the implementation of these changes in the early part of 2015.

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