The GDC is asking for the professions thoughts on plans to modernise its fitness to practise process.
The General Dental Council (GDC) hopes that it can introduce case examiners into the fitness to practise proceedings, which it claims could make the process quicker, safer for patients and less stressful for professionals.
‘This consultation is a further step to modernise the way we run our fitness to practise caseload,’ director of fitness to practise at the GDC, Jonathan Green said.
‘When someone is being investigated by the GDC, we recognise this places the person under considerable stress and anxiety.
‘While we absolutely have a duty to protect patients by taking swift action against those who should not be practising dentistry, we must make the entire process as efficient, seamless and timely as possible by providing the necessary support.
‘Introducing case examiners will help to further streamline the FtP process.
‘We have made some significant changes to the way we handle cases from the initial complaint to the final outcome.
‘Introducing case examiners with a power to agree undertakings with practitioners, means that we will see more complaints dealt with without the need for a Practice Committee hearing.
‘This should lead to significant reduction in stress for practitioners, as well as ensuring, for all concerned, that suitable cases are resolved earlier and with less expense.
‘Patients will continue to be protected and they can be confident when they visit a dentist or dental care professional, they are receiving high standards of care.
‘We welcome your views as it is absolutely imperative we make the best use of our new powers.’
Under the GDC’s new plans, case examiners will be able to agree undertakings with professionals where appropriate.
The undertakings could include an agreement with the dental professional to help them achieve required standards, including through training and practising whilst under supervision.
The dental regulator believes this process could save it around £1.8 million per year.
The legislation (known as a Section 60 order) has recently been debated and approved by both Houses of Parliament and in the Scottish Parliament.
After Privy Council consideration, it will come into force on 13 April.
Full details of the plans are available here and the consultation runs until 14 March.