15 February 2013
Fitness to Practise changes start to show results
Further work is underway to improve the General Dental Council’s handling of complaints against dental professionals.
A raft of changes, which began in 2011, have already been implemented to its Fitness to Practise system and further improvements to processes, guidance and audit programmes are currently taking place.
Progress so far
Some key measurements show the progress made so far:
• The number of cases completed at the investigation stage within 6 months of being received has increased from 68% at the end of 2011 to 85% at the end of 2012;
• There has been an increase of 13% at the end of 2012 for cases progressed from Investigating Committee to reaching a Hearing within 9 months compared to the end of 2011;
• There has been a reduction in the length of the queue of cases awaiting a hearing to 129 at the end of 2012 compared to the 155 at the first quarter of 2011;
• These improvements are being made in spite of the fact that the number of cases received continues to rise. 2274 cases were received in 2012. This represents a 44% increase on 2011 when 1578 cases were received.
The GDC has experienced a significant rise in the number of Fitness to Practise cases it has received over recent years. Dealing with the higher volume of cases effectively has caused a significant challenge.
Some of the changes introduced to try to tackle this are:
• Procedures throughout the entire process have been reviewed and improved and new operating guidance has been published to document the new system;
• More Investigating Committee meetings are being scheduled and legally qualified Investigating Committee managers have been appointed to support the Committee to ensure that all information needed to make decisions is provided to the committee;
• A new triage process has been introduced to scrutinise cases as soon as they arrive to plan what action needs to be taken, or to close cases early on if appropriate to do so;
• The National Clinical Assessment Service is providing early clinical input to cases before the initial assessment of a case to ensure that caseworkers are fully apprised of the significance of clinical matters raised from an early stage in the case;
Over the longer term, further changes to the GDC’s legislative framework are required which would further improve its ability to investigate cases effectively.
An update on these reforms was presented to Council Members at their meeting on 14 February 2013. The papers can be found here.
Notes to editors:
• To get all the latest news from the GDC sign up to get our monthly newsletter by email here