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Press releases

Consultation on GDC Fitness to Practise processes

General Dental Council

3 min read Partner content

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

The consultation on the FtP Rules opens today, Monday 17 November 2014, and will close on 12 January 2015.

You can respond here: http://www.gdc-uk.org/GDCcalendar/Consultations/Pages/Consultation-on-changes-to-the-GDC’s-Fitness-to-Practise-Rules-2006.aspx

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, there has been a 110% increase in the number of complaints about GDC registrants. Outdated processes prove a significant limitation when dealing with this increasing caseload, and the GDC has long been campaigning for legislative change to be able to update them.

The proposed changes include:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 aimed at helping to improve efficiency in FtP and enhance the protection of the public.

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.

Notes:

- The Department of Health is currently consulting on proposals to make changes to the Dentists Act 1984 that would enable the GDC to make changes to the Fitness to Practise Rules. This consultation closes on the 21 November 2014 https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/measures-to-improve-the-gdcs-processes-on-fitness-to-practice
- This GDC consultation is regarding the changes it would make if the Section 60 Order, as currently consulted on by the Department of Health, becomes law.
- In 2011, we reviewed our fitness to practise procedures and concluded there was a need to improve and modernise our operations. In particular, we found a need to improve the efficiency of our processes whilst maintaining our ability to protect patients. Between October and November 2011, we asked for views on preliminary proposals for changing our fitness to practise process. In February 2012, we carried out a formal consultation exercise on these proposals. The responses we received to this consultation were broadly supportive of our ideas, and these proposals form the basis of this consultation.

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