On 1 August 2018, a chair of a GDC fitness to practise panel who was also a registered dentist made a racist comment during a panel hearing at which they were officiating. Behaviour of that kind is unacceptable from anybody, yet still more so from somebody in a position of trust involved in making judgements about the professional behaviour of others.
We are very pleased that the Professional Conduct Committee considering this case has taken decisive action – and in doing so has sent a clear signal that discrimination is unacceptable in any part of professional regulation.
We took immediate action that same day to suspend the hearing of the case which this chair was adjudicating and took immediate steps to ensure that they did not sit in any further cases. We subsequently removed this person from acting as a panellist altogether and referred them for a fitness to practise examination of their professional conduct.
Our processes are designed to minimise the risk of discriminatory attitudes affecting fitness to practise outcomes and this case illustrates their effectiveness. Other members of the panel and members of GDC staff reacted instantly to ensure that the chair had no further involvement in decision making. Our Independent fitness to practise panels are always made up of three people and no one individual panellist can determine the outcome. Panellists receive diversity and unconscious bias training at induction and then again each year. Fitness to practise outcomes are also scrutinised in multiple ways both internally at the GDC and through external audit and review.