Dental Protection welcomes GDC pilot to speed up some investigation processes


  Posted by: Dental Design      8th September 2023

Dental Protection has welcomed the Fitness to Practise pilot launched by the General Dental Council (GDC) aimed at concluding simple cases more quickly, in the absence of wider regulatory reform.

The pilot will run for six months and deal solely with single patient clinical complaints where there are no previous fitness to practice concerns. According to the GDC, these currently make up 40% of all matters referred to the assessment stage and take more than 30 weeks on average to resolve.

Dental Protection hopes the pilot will demonstrate that more can be done by the GDC to improve and speed up the process for all cases.

Dr George Wright, Deputy Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Action by the government to amend the GDC’s legislation could give the regulator discretion not to take forward investigations where allegations clearly do not require action, and therefore dedicate more time to the most serious allegations. In the absence of this, we have been calling on the GDC to make more progress in tackling the delay in case handling itself.

“It is encouraging that the GDC has taken this step to trial more informed decision making early in the process in respect of simple cases, with a view to avoiding delays. This is a welcome move, and we hope it results in resolving this cohort of cases more quickly.

“We also hope the pilot demonstrates the potential for the GDC to do more to bring about speedier, more informed and robust decision making across all cases.

“The bigger concern for the dental professionals we represent at Dental Protection is the lack of proportionality and timeliness in the handling of cases that are not closed at assessment. We believe the consistent use of more experienced caseworkers in particularly complex cases would result in better and faster decision making, as well as fewer adjournments by Case Examiners and challenges to the decisions made.

“A key factor that could substantially improve proportionality would be for the GDC to reconsider its policy of referring matters to Case Examiners where it is clear from their own clinical adviser that misconduct cannot be established. We will continue to raise these concerns with the GDC.”

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