The importance of cases like GDC and Pate

GDCMatthew Hill explains why the GDC and Pate case was so important to go to fitness to practise.

The determination in the recent case of GDC and Pate has been received with much controversy in some sections of the profession, particularly in some social media circles.

We are concerned by this reaction because the issues raised by the case go right to the heart of what it means to be a healthcare professional.

When someone becomes a healthcare professional they join a group of people in whom the public places its trust.

Joining that special group – in this case the dental profession – comes with both privileges and important obligations.

The privileges arise from the fact that no-one else can lawfully do the things that dentists do.

The obligations arise from the need to ensure that individual patients can benefit from safe, effective care delivered in circumstances of dignity and respect.

For the public – as a whole and as individual communities – it means they can confidently place their trust in the dental profession.

It is the job of regulation to ensure that the obligations are delivered in return for the privileges.

‘Demanded action’

This case was about serious violations of that relationship of trust.

The behaviours that were demonstrated call into question whether patients from a particular group could expect to be treated safely, and with dignity and respect.

They also call into question the confidence that entire communities might place in the dental profession as a whole.

These are red lines for regulation.

And so, in GDC and Pate the circumstances demanded action from the GDC.

Indeed, we know that many would immediately recognise the benefit to the whole profession when behaviours, which are so undermining of public confidence in the profession, which go so clearly against patient trust and respect, are called out clearly and decisively.

We know that some will disagree with this view.

However, that will not dilute our focus on patient safety and public confidence.

We will continue to take the necessary action to secure both in the interests of the public and the profession.

I believe the vast majority of dental professionals will need no reminder of these principles because they have embedded them as a necessary part of the critical service they provide.

To read the case determination in full, visit olr.gdc-uk.org/hearings/Hearing?hearingId=614a567e-981a-4cfb-a756-e8613fc1d516.

Comments (43)

Where his comments intended to be read by the general public or on a private forum for the dentak prifesdion only?

I entirely agree that what was said was intemperate and offensive to a group of people who are also patients of dentists .
But that had no link to patients of this dentist being at risk in any way .It had nothing to do with anything clinical especially as he was retired
This response tars us all with the same brush.It implies that the general public will equate what one dentist, with what could be construed as racist or religious intolerance, with the profession as a whole
I do wonder if the whole notion of ’ bringing the profession into disrepute ’needs a grown up discussion between lay people and dentists.
A thought, The Gambling Commission oversees an industry that promotes machines which can lose a gambling addict thousands in a very short time ,ruins lives and families and drives people to suicide .Compare the effectiveness of that body to the aggressiveness being shown towards dental regulation

Dear Matthew Hill,

I suspect I and many others are reading your response upon here, on behalf of the GDC wrt this FtP case, with incredulity!!

It appears (thanks to the freedom of information social media facilitates) that the GDC attitudes, processes and outcomes for this FtP (and it’s not the only one!!!) are both flawed and unfair and as such, brings the GDC itself into serious Professional and Public disrepute, is the concern here 😮

If it wasn’t for dental social media groups, we wouldn’t know that the GDC had suppressed evidence, including an expert report provided by the Police Commissioner, stating that NO LAWS had been broken and what was said was within the realms of free-speech, effectively.

If it wasn’t for dental social media groups, we wouldn’t know that the dental registrant was unrepresented by his ‘discretionary’ indemnity provider, allegedly because they don’t support Dentists facing ‘non-clinical’ GDC disciplinary processes, which will come as a surprise to many I’m sure who pay significant indemnity fees rising year upon year.

If it wasn’t for dental social media groups, we wouldn’t know the increasing problems of UNREPRESENTED registrants having to face a GDC legal team whose only remit seems to be to get as many convictions and harsh sanctions as you can, plus hire an expensive Barrister for the 3 to 4 days of FtP to really trash the unrepresented, vulnerable and no doubt legally inadequate and inexperienced ‘victim’ stuck in such an adversarial and punitive process alone, that has devastating consequences upon reputation, livelihood and sanity !!

If it wasn’t for dental social media groups, we wouldn’t know that the registrant had already retired last year, was no longer a dentist upon the 1st January, but the GDC forced this now ‘member of the public’ to stay upon the register so that they could hammer and suspend him, from the register he wouldn’t have been on anyway, all in order to get what, a determination to oppress and limit free speech upon dental social media groups because they are a threat to the GDC when questionable processes o acts or facts are suppressed or omitted ???

Last but not least, even IF one was of the oppressive mindset that the end justifies the means no matter how subversive or erroneous the process, it was absolutely disgraceful that selected comments that were PRIVATE behind password-protected dental-only groups, long forgotten and made over a year ago in the days after many young children were dismembered or killed by the Manchester bombing (a very emotive time to give it context) were THEN PUBLISHED PUBLICLY by the GDC (out of context), completely unnecessarily and gratuitously and thus causing MORE offence or upset or misunderstanding than anything in the original (wide ranging but private) debate over a year ago, because they were SO out of context.

There are many more issues with this case, including questions about the suitability of the FtP panel and their religious bias, which again dental social media groups investigated and demonstrated and fed back to the GDC, only to be dismissed or ignored.

In short, Matthew Hill, the GDC should highlight this case and it’s unfairness and flawed or compromised processes, as a serious cause for concern and indeed reflecting the many concerns about the GDC approach – it is neither fair, proportionate or in the public interest to suppress evidence or go for overkill upon an unrepresented, vulnerable and an already retired registrant!

I personally did not like many of the comments made (worst ones were made by the dentist complainant in my view but in context, still understandable in a wide ranging debate) for something frankly that probably just needed an early warning letter at worst.

I fear that this case (and others) actually bring the GDC into disrepute and further undermine public and professional confidence in the GDC as a fair and proportionate regulator. You should be apologising to the dental profession and learning some SERIOUS lessons, not lording this case as some example of GDC ‘best practice’ – Dentists are Human Beings too and it is time the GDC realises what is BAD for dentists and their Teams, is BAD for the public too.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions – the GDC needs to refocus and realise that Dental Professionals are not the problem, they are the answer and they need protected spaces to discuss, vent, evolve and understand others views even if sometimes they differ or cause offence – the current GDC sledgehammer is NOT the answer here!

Yours feedbackingly,

Tony Kilcoyne
Independent dental practitioner.

1. Your comment on the uniqueness of being a dentist is incorrect. A person on the medical register can, I understand, practise dentistry.
2. Are dentists not permitted to express views outwith “generally accepted views of society?” What happens if these views change?
3. As the Police said no crime had been committed why did the GDC feel it necessary to step in in a quasi judicial manner?

Re: point 1. – well yes, theoretically, but no indemnifier in their right mind would quote for a medical registrant with no dental qualification who wanted to practice dentistry.

Dear Matthew Hill

It is with grave concern that I read your rather poorly thought out and subjective opinion piece regarding the GDC and Pate case here presented.

You mention in your opening remarks that the GDC (you appear to use the pluralis maiestatis) are concerned by the social media reaction to the case. What did you expect?
You have taken an unrepresented, retired dentist (member of the general public), and spent our registration fees publicly castigating him whilst giving a far larger audience to his unfortunate comments than would ever have happened had they remained ensconsed within a password protected private dental forum. You (the GDC) should be ashamed that you haven’t got the insight to appreciate how this action has affected both the public perception of the profession but also further dissolved any remaining trust between the profession and yourselves.

You speak about the privilege of joining a special group and how this brings responsibilities. How ironic that you bring forth this balance from within a special group that has seemingly lost all sight of it’s own key responsibilities. Your chairman’s Pendlebury lecture (now removed from Google search), makes clear that an expanded GDC remit is a key future goal. It is very clear from your opinion piece that this expanded remit includes policing of the boundaries of freedom of speech, a subjective approach to safeguarding professionalism (no objective study of this has been utilised), the use of an FTP Panel with alleged serious issues and a casual disregard for the principles of natural justice by allowing a retired registrant to appear unrepresented to face your legal team.

The complainant in this case has previously been suspended for a frankly disgraceful sexual act in his surgery. The fact that this four month suspension is mirrored in the GDC versus Pate case has been noted by many and further undermines the objectivity of your processes. It has also been noted that no police involvement was orchestrated in that case unlike the Pate one. Why was this? Why was the police recommendation that this wasn’t hate speech also ignored?

In a climate where the GDC has been castigated by the PSA for a prolonged failure to meet its own core objectives and shown a lack of insight regarding this. Where the GDC has massive reserves of cash when FTP cases have fallen, and has decided to further increase these reserves instead of reducing the onerous ARF. Where the GDC has lost the trust of the profession, leading to defensive dentistry, de-skilling, a profession living in fear with record numbers of dentists leaving the profession. Where you have used adverts to chase complaints and targeted your adverts to tie into pieces in the press from the Dental Law Partnership. In this climate, you have felt it appropriate to take this line with a retired, unrepresented dentist with a previously unblemished record? This says much about how the GDC has lost its way and how the internal malevolent culture of your organisation has actually affected patient care.

I think your opinion piece is a disgrace.

Yours sincerely

Dominic O’Hooley

Dentist.

The idea that personal views expressed on social media can somehow contaminate how a given clinician with that view manages and looks after the care of their patients is in my opinion of poor correlation.

It seems to be the assumption that healthcare professionals or any group subject to professional regulation should be held on a pedestal within society, This I find to be an antiquated if not Victorian regressive stance.

Healthcare professionals indeed all regulated professionals have an individual human right to express their own viewpoint as they see fit provided it does not break the law of the land which of course is set by our elected representatives . In this case the police and by definition the CPS had decided the law had not been infringed and would not prosecute.

In fact millions of our forefathers have died to ensure the right of free speech and the fair and respected law of the land created in this fashion.

The views expressed in this article by the author seem to take a draconian PC view out of step with the modern liberalisation of society.

It is also in my view not in the gift or right of a body which is composed of appointees (as opposed to having to he strength and validity of elected members) to impose their own (possibly distorted) view of “what should be” on a supplicant group of people on whom they visit this by fear of loosing their liveliehood. Such measures and indeed control of thought processes of whole sections of society by unelected bodies or give moments we have for decades held in abhorrence in dictatorial countries.

Viewpoints need to be managed overtime not enforced with an iron fist. Laws and enforcement need to be validated by elected bodies. The iron fist has always been counterproductive in human endeavour and cannot be helpful in this instance either.

I feel there are several issues with the GDC’s stance here.

1) The spending of £25K of registration fees on the hearing is probably the least concerning aspect, but a concern none the less.

2) The claim that this was essential to protect the public is arguably spurious and difficult to defend. The ill-advised comments by Mr Pate were made on a private forum, access to which is only available to registrants. It was not visible to the general public. By bringing the case, and displaying the charges and the determination, it is the GDC that actually put the defendant’s odious statements into the public realm. By their unnecessary actions, the GDC themselves risked bringing the profession into disrepute.

3) Unnecessary? Why certainly. This is a retired dentist who had indicated he would no longer be doing dentistry. Also, the apparent lack of patient complaints in this regard from 30+ years of practice could reasonably be used as an indication that the comments posted on the private forum were not reflected in the defendants treatmet of patients. The argument that “he could return to the profession” is perhaps a legitimate concern but could have been dealt with at the time of such an eventuality.
By failing to renew his registration, Mr Pate would have had to reapply for registration should he have changed his mind.

4) Of bigger concern was the GDC’s decision to bring a case based on the issue of free speech. The panel were asked to give their opinion on statements that quite clearly had a number of interpretations. The police reportedly did not feel this was a matter for them, so no laws were broken. The matter at hand was thus that the complainant (another dentist) was offended by the statements made by Mr Pate. The problem is that free speech is not generally recognized by English common law, so the case falls under the articles of the ECHR. Are the GDC the suitable judge of such a complicated subject as Article 10? Do the panel members have the required understanding of European law, the UK legislative process and the morality and ethics involved in determining the nuances of what someone actually meant to say, rather than on what someone “thought” they actually said.

5) I think this damages the GDC. The overriding perception amongst the profession is that the GDC now governs by fear rather than by mutual respect and consensus. The more “tyrannical” the GDC appear to be, the less the profession will be able to tolerate them. This result in defensive dentistry (which damages patients), the migration of registrants away from the profession (which damages patients), and a general feeling of fear and dread which damages both the mental well being of the profession and by reflection, the patients the registrants treat. The fact that the GDC cannot see this speaks volumes.

6) On that last point, the regulator cannot survive without the respect and the cooperation of those it regulates. The GDC has now lost the respect of the profession, which will result in pressure on the very structure of the GDC. By their actions, the GDC have damaged themselves and weakened the effectiveness of their operation

7) If this was a lone case it could be considered an aberration. But it is far from that the litany of charge sheet with often farcical allegations a shame on the honourable institution that the GDC is supposed to be.

What a circus indeed!
Law firms jumping on the gravy train when the GDC decides to police the profession in a rather draconian manner, suppressing evidence, ignoring expert opinion, wasting the registrant’s hard earned money, publicly virtually beheading dentists for minor misdemeanours when other means may have been more appropriate, purely to improve on their statistics and as a means of to justify the unjustifiable extortionate hike in ARF.
Even the GDC motto reads “regulating professionals, protecting the public” – making us sound like demons and monsters that the public need protection from.
.
It is not us, the registrants that bring the profession into disrepute, I would argue that it’s is the regulator itself, by by way of their aggressive, unregulated, grossly unbalanced and devious regulatory approach.

When one speaks of a circus, one can not ignore the circus conductor from the equation.

Please feel free to hang your head in shame.

Concerned registrant

Should I be scared of posting this response? Will someone be offended by it? Will someone disagree?!

I feel that the judgement in this case potentially makes us less likely to say what we think and feel for fear of punishment. And that may have very many negative effects.

Part of working in a profession is having the mettle to raise uncomfortable points of view and/or issues. I may now worry about criticising the aspects of someone’s behaviour for fear of offending them.

I also fear that I may do something fairly innocuous which could be used against me by someone with an axe to grind. I don’t know where some people draw the line. Someone could also simply just not like me very much, and potentially use the regulator as a weapon. That is a frightening thought.

My understanding is also that Gordon’s comments were presented somewhat differently to how they were actually expressed, and although I wouldn’t wish to be associated with those views, he said what he thought at the time and echoed views similar to those – like it or loathe it – held by many. Without contrasting views and opinions, it is harder for us to come to our own conclusions about matters.

I have watched and contributed to some of the social media debate around this case. A number of issues concerned me.
The first was the lack of realisation within parts of the profession of its obligations , that may be in part to the fact that the profession has seen its privileges eroded over recent years (with the profession itself contributing to this at times) and possibly also individuals values changing across the generations. There is nothing new in the GDC examining a dentists actions which although part of their private life was in the public domain – bringing the profession into disrepute it was called in my UG days. In this case this is the key point, statements on social media are not private and it’s naive to think so. I’ve never been to a meeting which involved the topic of social media where this warning is not reinforced. Ironically it’s my generation who sometimes fail to grasp this reality.

The second worrying aspect in the social media debate has been at times the lack of leadership when cool heads, factual based discussions and engagement was required. This was a time for personal agendas and anger to be put aside and the learning from this case as it stands at this time understood so that other colleagues did not find themselves under potential scrutiny. Ironically this is itself a product of social media where anyone and everyone can contribute to the debate rather than in previous times probably senior colleagues would provide direct support and advice to individuals. I see the conceot of providing support as a duty of care to colleagues which is often lost in the immediacy abs emotion of social media. This duty of care also extends in social media to professional respect, you may disagree with a colleagues views but that does not in my mind extend to one professional become ‘abusive’ to another, again a situation seen at times in the social media debate on this issue. I would suggest that such a situation would never where professionals raditionsl come together eg at a conference or a professional meeting . Sadly I can see the day where such ‘abuse’ is brought to the attention of the GDC.

If nothing else this case sadly drives home the dangers of social media and highlights the lack of understanding within large sections of the profession and it’s leadership of the standards expected from them and how discussions on FB etc can make them vulnerable to criticism.

Should I be worried about posting this for fear of offending someone? Where is the line drawn here?

I’m aware of colleagues receiving letters for behaviour on social media, without any reference to what their actions were. We of course have the above.

Where is the line drawn?

I’m worried from reading the above that being a dental surgeon has put me on a pedestal that somehow makes me unable to engage with others for fear of ending up in a fitness to practice case because my actions or remarks may be seen as “unprofessional” by someone outside the conversation.

Am I not allowed to read the jokes in the back of FHM anymore – or perish the thought, share them with someone else – or share links from unilad on Facebook because the naughty words may “offend”?

I’m not a robot, I’m a gregarious and sociable person. The fear of not being able to engage in what is effectively normal and accepted behaviour in society without potentially getting into trouble risks alienating us from other groups.

I feel that the judgement in this case potentially makes us less likely to say what we think and feel for fear of punishment. And that may have very many negative effects.

Part of working in a profession is having the mettle to raise uncomfortable points of view and/or issues. I may now worry about criticising the aspects of someone’s behaviour for fear of offending them.

I also fear that I may do something fairly innocuous which could be used against me by someone with an axe to grind. I don’t know where some people draw the line. Someone could also simply just not like me very much, and potentially use the regulator as a weapon. That is a frightening thought.

Gordon did not do anything illegal. My understanding is that his comments were presented somewhat differently to how they were actually expressed, and although I wouldn’t wish to be associated with those views, he said what he thought at the time and echoed views similar to those – like it or loathe it – held by many.

Without contrasting views and opinions, it is harder for us to come to our own conclusions about matters.

I am not a lawyer and not affiliated to any particular religious organisation. If I have mistaken and facts below, I will be very happy to be corrected.

There has never been a time in the last 30 years has it been more important to have the dental profession regulated efficiently and effectively. This is because the original effective system that policed the profession had been removed by Her Majesty’s Government and replaced by an ineffective policing system.

I had the privilege of hearing Matthew Hill speak to the East Midlands BDA branch meeting a few months ago. I was impressed that he would make time to come all the way to the East Midlands to speak to us in the evening, midweek. I was also impressed at his honesty in telling us what the General Dental Council was doing and what their plans for the future in regulating the profession consisted of. I was convinced he was genuine in his belief that regulating the profession should consist of the plan he had outlined. His beliefs are well summoned up in his article above.

However, I am also convinced that there is a lack of understanding by those in authority at the GDC at what regulating the profession should really entail and the GDC Vs Pate case illustrates this very well.

“What does it mean to be a healthcare professional? If one were to apply the disciplines of logic and ethics in a debate, one will soon see that it is not immediately obvious and there are much wider ramifications to whatever view one holds. However, whatever it means to be a healthcare professional, Mr. Hill is correct in that one is a member of a group of people in whom the public places their trust. It is a very special and privileged group and that comes with certain ethical obligations.

As the regulator of the dental profession, this means that all the people that the GDC consists of are also members of this special privileged group. Therefore, not only should the public have confidence in a dental healthcare professional but, even more importantly, the public must have confidence in the judicial processes of regulation. Concepts of bias or lack of neutrality have no place in an ethical judicial system. All laws implemented by, and the processes themselves of any judicial system must always answer to that higher principle that laws are meant to serve. Therefore the judicial system of the GDC must be informed by, and answer to, the principles of Ethics.

Whereas a registrant should not do anything that brings the profession into disrepute, the principles of ethics demands that no person or situation should bring the judicial process into disrepute because this calls for a higher level of adherence to the principles of ethics.

Public confidence in the profession and public confidence in the judicial system of a regulator are two very separate concepts. It seems that the GDC is only focused on the former and not the latter and yet … it is more important, in a civilised society that the latter must always come first.

Running along the same vein of logic, the public need to have confidence in our constabulary but it is more important the public has confidence in our courts and judiciary system.

This is where I feel a gross discrepancy in how the profession is regulated and how the GDC adheres to the ethical principles that informs their regulatory processes.

GDC Vs Pate

(1) All FtP hearings should have as their ultimate objective the protection of the public where if the FtP hearing makes a mistake or a judgement in error, the public will be in danger.

I find a logical inconsistency in this statement and the GDC Vs Pate case. Given that the accused has already retired, whatever the verdict, he will not be in contact with the public. Therefore, to go ahead with a FtP hearing is logically incompatible with what a FtP hearing is meant to achieve. The public were never in any danger.

(2) To judge if what was posted by Mr. Pate is ethically acceptable, then one has to apply certain criteria to base one’s judgment on. The questions that need to be answered is what exactly did Mr. Pate mean? What was his message? What was he trying to achieve in saying what he said?

To this end, one has to apply the various theories of meaning and how words are used to convey a message. No expert witnesses were called to assist the panel on this. So it is left to the panel to decide on their own whim the meaning. This is totally unacceptable ethically.

(3) Any judicial system must be devoid of bias and be based on neutrality of the people involved. How is it that the chairman of the FtP panel openly states the GDC as a client of his company. If the GDC is not a client then he has shown dishonesty and / or misled the public as to his relationship with the GDC. Whether this was intentional or not is irrelevant. If the GDC is a member, then it is unethical for him to sit in hearing as there is a conflict of interest. If the GDC is not a client then this is a more serious issue as this show gross dishonesty. Either way, he should not have been sitting in hearing. Given this has come to light, there is reasonable cause of a miscarriage of justice.

(4) The lack of neutrality and a conflict of interest is further compounded by the other member sitting on the FtP panel. He openly advertised that he worked for the GDC. At the time of the hearing, true or not how the GDC sees their relationship with a FtP panel member, the member certainly saw it this way and therefore, a miscarriage of justice is even more likely.

(5) Of all the parties involved, the party most ‘qualified’ to make a judgement would have been the metropolitan police … and they ruled that no law had been broken. There was no intention of inciting Islamophobia or inciting racism. The metropolitan police is much bigger and public organisation than the GDC and I have absolutely no doubts they will have looked into the matter at a much greater dept than the GDC would have been able to and definitely to a much greater depth than the FtP panel.

Given that the GDC was in possession of the metropolitan police’s view, why did they go ahead with a FtP hearing? It defies logic.

A regulatory system is only as good as the ethics that informs it. When the processes no longer answer to that higher principle that laws are meant to serve, then the moral compass of the judicial process needs recalibrating.

I believe if a registrant demonstrated lack of competence and insight to such a degree as GDC had they would (and should have been) struck off many times over.

I fear that you have now truly lost the confidence of the profession especially as the registrants are unlikely to accept that FtP Chair Mr Adair Richards cited the GDC as a client on his website purely in error. No-one clever enough to sit on a FtP panel makes a mistake like that, and frankly his integrity is now in question.

Dear Matthew Hill

Following on from my last comment. I think the biggest service you could provide for dental patients in the UK would be to make the small journey on Monday morning to Bill Moye’s office and ask him to consider getting his coat.

It is transparent that the overarching agenda on the GDC is adversarial towards the dental profession and this is also clearly driven by your boss. His infamous Pendlebury Memorial Lecture (now removed from Google searches), made his position on this unambiguously clear.

Dentists living in dread of a heavy touch regulator leads to defensive practice and this harms patients.

Your strategy should be to seek to heal the rift with our noble profession. This will mean changes in the leadership team of the GDC as an absolute starting requirement but that is a small price to pay for reversing this shambles that your organisation has created.

The shoddy piece of PC tat that you have written here doesn’t have to define your time at the GDC. Do the right thing Matthew.

Yours sincerely

Dominic O’Hooley

Dentist.

The intention of my first response was to lay out what the ethical demands of a regulator should consist in. I would like to respond to the actual article itself.

Let me first say that this is not a personal ‘attack’ on Mr. Hill. As I said in my first response, I found it was a privilege to have attended his talk. Neither is this an ‘attack’ on the GDC which ever definition you want to give to the word ‘attack’. It is very important that registrants and the GDC work together for a greater good. Not only does ‘attacking’ each other bear no fruitful results but it also brings the profession into disrepute.

Nothing brings the profession more into disrepute than if the profession has reasonable grounds to lose confidence in their regulator. Nothing brings the profession more into disrepute than to have a regulator and registrants at loggerheads with each other. Ethical and effective regulation demands that each party listens to each other.

The aim of my post is to point out the logic behind communication. So very often people mean to say one thing but end up saying something else.

The main point of the article was to explain why the GDC felt it was important that the case of GDC Vs Pate went to Fitness to Practice (FtP). Actually the article does not give any explanation at all. The article has been written with the view that the case should go to FtP was a given already. Let me explain this.

“We know that some will disagree with this view”. This refers to all the preceding paragraphs about why the GDC takes cases to FtP. I don’t not think anyone will disagree with all the preceding paragraphs at all. Mr. Hill’s article has misrepresented the controversy.

The controversy actually lies in:
(1) Whether it is true that what was said called the profession into disrepute.
(2) Whether it is true that what was said made Mr Pate unfit to practice dentistry on a particular group of people.
(3) Whether, if (1) & (2) were found to be true, patients will then be put in danger.

I do not think that if all three were found to be true that any registrant will disagree with the actions of the GDC. In fact all registrants will demand that the GDC acts accordingly.

I have re-read the article 3 times and I have found no explanations that addresses the real controversy. The way the article is written by whoever wrote that article, does not actually offer an explanation as to the truth of the three points but it has been written with the view that the truth was already a given. It logically follows that it did not do what it set out to do and that was to explain why it should go to FtP.

The only reasonable logical conclusion that can be drawn from available empirical data is that:
(a) There was no truth in all three points.
(b) Even if there was an element of truth I am under no doubt that no Supreme Court, Civil Court, Magistrate’s Court or any court in the land and the world would have given their approval of the members of the Fitness to Practice panel of ‘judges’.

This is where the controversy lies and needs to be addressed. I look forward to a response to this request.

Dear Matthew Hill,

I implore you to read all the comments above and respond.

Your explanation as to why the Pate case went to FTP is clearly unsatisfactory and doesn’t placate us as a profession.

Should you not reply to this article and avoid engaging with the registrants it will only confirm our belief that the GDC is intransigent and out of touch.

Yours sincerely,
James Millar
Dentist

This is a very disturbing case on a number of levels Mr Pate’s comments were in the immediate wake of the murder of the children in Manchester by Islamist extremists. This was taken as an aggravating factor by the GDC, when clearly the opposite should have applied, it was an emotional situation.

To make the decision “on the balance of probablity” that Mr Pate was calling for ethnic cleansing, is completely outrageous. I don’t agree with the style in which he commented, but his right to do so needs to be defended. Otherwise where are we going to end up?

The idea that a conversation in private with fellow professionals should be on the same level as something put into the public domain because the other party is “also a member of the public” is laughable. The GDC will be moving on to “thought control” once they have “speech control” at this rate.

By putting this issue into the public domain, the GDC has brought itself, and the profession into disrepute,. Were they motivated by fear of being accused of Islamophobia if they did not ‘prosecute’ to the maximum extent?

On the plus side, Mr Tariq Drabu read my comment on the debate that caused this issue, where I referred to him as a “Dick Head”. I can’t find his GDC hearing report, but the salacious press reports of his dishonesty remain a permanent stain on the profession, and in the context of a private conversation, I don’t think that this term is an unreasonable characterisation.

Over in the UK [ I would not dare to write this if I was within the jurisdiction of the GDC] you have really lost the plot. It’s not as if the overall standard of dentistry is anything to brag about. The newly qualified students are not fit for purpose, apparently, and the profession is feeding the legal profession at an unsustainable rate. Would a crowdfunded judicial review be a way forwards?

The posts under consideration were made on a closed and private forum. It goes to follow that another member of the same forum – and please don’t forget he/she is a member of the ‘public’ for whom the GDC must protect – must have been sufficiently offended by the posts to have blown the whistle and formally complained. While there may have been no criminal offence prosecutable by the Met/CPS, assessed at the criminal standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt), there may well be sufficient evidence at the civil standard of proof (on the balance of probabilities), to find misconduct and impairment. One further point, the panel is independent of the GDC and it is the panel (which includes a dentist, DCP and a lay member) who reached the decisions made. While it may seem to be unfair, over the top, beaten with a stick, without seeing/hearing evidence first-hand, none of us are truly in a position to make a fully informed judgement.

Sally Atkinson:
For the 100th time:
This panel did not seem to be independent of the GDC.
One posted GDC as a client.?
The other actually advertised that he worked for the GDC.?

That does not sound very independent to me.

Were the members of the panel sufficiently knowledgeable in the complexities of the law governing freedom of speech though, particularly Article 10. We have to remember that the Registrant was not allowed to voluntarily remove himself from the register by his retirement, but was kept on the register just so he could be suspended. £25K of our money spent just to tell a retired dentist he was suspended.

Perhaps a better way would have been to let him retire and then keep the case on hold should the registrant have changed his mind. The only people damaged by this are the GDC and the panel members whose impartiality has now been called into question.

It’s a bit like telling someone who has had both their ears amputated that they are no longer allowed to wear glasses

It is certainly a circus!

Perhaps Matthew Hill would like to tell the profession what he sees our privileges as being?
I certainly cannot see any!

These appear to have been eroded over the most recent years by both the government and the GDC and replaced by a toxic working environment where dentists have to ‘perform’ under financial pressure and patients unrealistic demands! Certainly in the NHS everyone appears to want all sorts of treatments for pennies! Every dentist is at risk and compromised by each patient they see as you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t- in the eyes of the GDC!

Back to the ‘Pate trial’
If Gordon Pate had sold his practice and was retiring – What makes the GDC think that it has the right to waste registrants money in bringing this to ftp? He is certainly not a danger to any patient.
I find it incredulous that Matthew Hill feels that they had to use Gordon Pate as an example of them ‘ upholding standards’. It appears to be almost a personal vendetta to bring him to justice!

The GDC shows arrogance when a registrant wants to remove their name from the register – they advise you that they will consider it!! What right do they have to do this?
Oh wait – there may be an upcoming case against you! Surely, they should know when they receive your letter and respond immediately that your name has been removed. My family and friends thought it was a joke when I showed them the letter! It just shows the type of organisation they are – draconian!

I personally did not agree with any of what Gordon Pate said but his views are held by many people. The GDC did not treat him fairly , by making allegations with ‘limited statements’ removed from the dialogue, therefore not in context of what he was saying.
My view is that this was another witch- hunt in a continuing saga to undermine the profession.

If the GDC actually cared about patient safety then it would be putting pressure on the government to properly fund dentistry. They have already told me that this is not their remit. Why not?? Surely, patient safety is paramount and if they know this is a problem they should be dealing with it!! Oh but wait a minute – they have been put in position by the government!
By continuing in their quest to erode the profession – as fear will not lead to good performance and ideal care – they are seriously at risk of destroying dentistry. If they have not done so already!!
Perhaps it’s time that the GDC management were replaced by people who actually understand the profession. Surely it’s important to promote wellness and enjoyment in a job? What’s good for the dentist can only benefit the patients.
Instead the GDC are adding to the huge mental health issues of the population at large.
I cannot convey the joy I feel at no longer being on the GDC register! I would never have thought that I would feel like this 6 years ago.
I can only thank Matthew Hill that he and the GDC have driven me out and on to a better life!

Personally I don’t think I can write as articulately as some of my colleagues have, but this case and this article does not sit well with me and I feel is just a symptom of a system that is diseased.

Maybe it is time for real change. The world has changed and social media is part of this, so maybe it is time for the regulator and the profession to adapt to this change.

There are too many aspects of this case that alarm me to mention (a private password protected website being deemed public, a fellow dentist reporting another dentist, a retired dentist being put through an unnecessary FTP hearing, that dentist being left unrepresented at the hearing, the prosecution law team being given access to the defendant before the trial to assess his plan, evidence not being admitted on the basis that the (non legal) panel deemed it irrelevant, a conflict of interests for members of that panel not being declared and indeed now being erased and hidden, a trial by social media, regurgitation of the life of both the accused and the accuser over dental forums…..the list goes on). But this is what is important to me- what do you think has been achieved? And why do you feel it was important?

I see tens of thousands of pounds of money wasted performing a witch hunt on a dentist who had retired and with a background of zero concerns for any of his past patients who now has a reputation in tatters because of the fallout from this.

Have you ‘protected patients’? I don’t think so. You may not agree with what Mr Pate wrote as many of us don’t, but freedom of expression is a civil liberty and do you imply that being a dentist removes this? Or even worse you feel the GDC should have the power to remove it? How incredibly worrying.

What exactly do you expect of dentists? Who shall we suspend? The adulterers. The people who like a night out. The super rich who flaunt their wealth. The social media whores more concerned with their online presence than their patients. The casually racist. The actually racist. The sexists. The ones who struggle to pay their bills on time. The depressed. The anxious…….where exactly do you stop? I’m sure you could make an argument that all the above aren’t fit to practice, you just have to tailor your argument to the case to achieve the result you want which it seems is what happened with Mr Pate.

You (the GDC), the spiralling and worrying indemnity situation, the system we work in, the government failing to improve our working situations……all of these should be so much more important to you because these are the issues that will best serve our patients. Isn’t that the point? We serve our patients. But. We are only human. Please give us the respect to treat us as such.

Some very important points have been made by much articulate posters than me. If the hierarchy ignore this then shame on them and resignations should ensue.

Why has this post been removed from the quick link function of dentistry.co.uk despite being the most popular clicked article?

I believe what has been said above covers things very well. To ignore the police report is quite frankly ludicrous.

To have FTP panellists with conflicting interests is inappropriate

To have singled out a retired dentist at our expense is unacceptable.

Who on earth watches the watchmen? It seems that falls to the profession themselves, and as the GDC get worse and worse they can rightly expect significant criticism from us and action where appropriate. The profession is finally starting to unify under these unprecedented conditions. Dentists in the UK are laughed at the world over for how we have been beaten down and it seems change is in order.

In addition, it is highly suspicious that this article has been relegated to search-only, don’t you think?

The time is up for the gdc, a regulator that literally believes it is above the law, that actively hunts registrants, that removes basic human rights from its registrants. The gdc behaves in an egocentric sociopathic manner and we fund it to do so. It’s accumulating our cash, building huge reserves at a frightening rate. What for? To extend its scope of influence. Is its scope of influence already not too great when it prevents a registrant from retiring so they can drag them through a mock court? A pathetic state of affairs.

The GDC have dentists exactly where they want have them. The Gordon Pate case was never about racism or bringing the profession into disrepute. This is all about the GDC gate crashing the GDPUK forum and having a dump right in the middle. They want to show us who’s boss. They have spread fear and anger and now they are sitting back and having a good laugh.
Mathew Hill’s article is a big f*** off to the profession. He doesn’t give a dam about us or what we think. Mathew Hill just cares about Mathew Hill.

Worried yet by the near universal opposition to your opinion by the profession, Mr Hill? Probably not. The GDC has a hide as thick as a rhino and the ultimate in ‘Tin Ear’.

I agree with much of Matthew Hill’s article. The GDC must uphold the highest standards for the dental profession. Mr Pate’s unfortunate remarks were racist and unacceptable.
I would also like to know if Matthew Hill will apply the same standards to Professor Stewart Harding who made unfortunate racist remarks about Eastern Europeans at a recent course held at City of London Dental School.
Will the GDC hold Professor Harding to the same standards as Mr Pate or is it the case his position as expert witness for the GDC give him “diplomatic immunity”.

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