To demonstrate the independence of our hearings service, we are pleased to advise that we are giving it a new name and creating a new website: the Dental Professionals Hearings Service.
As part of the new service, the dedicated website has been launched to provide a one-stop-shop for all information related to dental hearings, including the different types of hearings, details of future and past hearings, and a summary of what dental professionals, witnesses, and the public can expect when attending a hearing.
While our hearings already take place before a committee of independent panellists, this change has been made to further highlight the independence of the hearings function from the GDC’s investigation and prosecution functions and to improve the experience for all who attend a hearing.
The legislation we operate under prevents the creation of an entirely independent hearings function and as such the new service remains legally part of, and accountable to, the GDC. The new dedicated hearings service, however, illustrates our commitment to making improvements wherever we can while we wait for regulatory reform.
Chair, Lord Toby Harris, said:
“The independence of the hearing from any investigative process is a fundamental tenet of justice, but we know this separation at the GDC isn’t always understood by those going through the system. By making this change we are aiming to highlight this independence and thereby promote confidence in the fairness of the system.”
Executive Director, Fitness to Practise, John Cullinane, added:
“This is one of several important changes we are making in relation to how fitness to practise and hearings work. While we are limited in how far we can go before our outdated legislation is reformed, wherever possible we are focussed on making changes that will improve the experience of everyone involved. We believe this administrative separation will help people to better-understand how the system works.”
It’s also important to reassure anyone involved in a hearing that the creation of this new service will cause no disruption to any hearings that are already scheduled.