Today we have published research that was jointly commissioned with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and supported by regulators of health professions across the UK to understand how the concept of seriousness is defined and applied by healthcare regulators in their fitness to practice (FtP) function. The research also looks into what factors influence its application, and the similarities and differences in approaches across regulation.
The research shows that while there are some fundamental differences between regulators in how and when seriousness is considered during an FtP process, partly due to the differing legislative frameworks each operate in, there are nonetheless some similarities and consistency in how the concept is generally understood and used. Cases involving sexual misconduct, dishonesty, criminal convictions, are all types of behaviour that are likely to be treated as serious misconduct and where there is broadly consistent guidance across all regulators.
It is important that dental professionals understand how the GDC, as the regulator of the whole dental team, determines misconduct and the factors that influence its seriousness. This research shows that a registrant’s level of engagement with their regulator is an important factor in determining the seriousness of an FtP case and the eventual outcome of it. Although the vast majority of dental professionals will never be involved in an FtP case, the GDC advises any who do find themselves involved in one to be fully engaged with and responsive during the process. Professionals who do engage with the regulator typically see less severe outcomes than those who do not.