When the Council approved the work to create a new identity and name for our hearings service they did it because it was the right thing to do: to highlight the independence of our hearings service and to improve the experience of everyone who is involved in a hearing, including dental professionals and witnesses.
As I explained in my blog back in November 2021, we know that our work in fitness to practise plays a significant role in how the GDC is perceived. We also recognise and understand that being involved in fitness to practise case is stressful for everyone involved, and anything we can do to reduce this can only be a good thing. I believe that this change is a positive step forward, as it makes it easier for people to understand the process and provides reassurance to the fairness and independence of the hearing that they will be attending.
Legislation restricts what we can do
Our current legislation limits much of what we can do to improve our fitness to practise process. The hearings function remains legally and financially part of the GDC and accountable to the Council, as required by law. However, this administrative separation is within our gift to do, and it highlights the independence and separation from the GDC’s investigation and prosecution services.
Every hearing we hold is heard by a committee of three panel members comprising both dental professionals and lay people, who are independent of the GDC, and all other parties involved. The committee members are selected to bring a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives which helps to ensure balanced discussion and fair decisions at hearings.
Everything in one place
We also wanted to make it easier for people to find information relating to dental hearings, and in developing the dentalhearings.org website we have created a one-stop shop for all matters relating to a dental hearing. This includes listings of upcoming hearings, details of past decisions, links to guidance and resources, and information for dental professionals, witnesses, and members of the public who are required or wish to attend a hearing.
We are in the process of removing our information on hearings from the GDC website, and in doing that we recognised that much of it was difficult to find and understand. So, the hearings team have reviewed and updated much of the content, making it easier to read and understand, no matter what device you are accessing it from.
It's more than just a new website
But it’s not just about a nice new website. These changes are part of a wider programme of work that we have been undertaking to improve how we deliver our hearings, as much as current legislation will allow. These further changes include process improvements to reduce the length of hearings and improving our performance management systems and resilience through better management of our casework.
But one of the main reasons for making this change was to make things better and easier for you, if you are required to attend a hearing. I believe that our new website, with everything you need to know about attending a hearing in one place, is a really positive step forward and provides assurance on the fairness and independence of our hearings function.
If you want to find out more or have any questions, the team will be more than happy to help. You can contact them at [email protected].