GDC introduces further improvements to fitness to practise processes

28 February, 2023
We have introduced some small but important changes to our fitness to practise processes. The changes aim to reduce the impacts on those subject to investigations, improve case progression, and make best use of limited resources in the absence of regulatory reform. It is now clear that full regulatory reform for the GDC is several years away following last week’s announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care.   

Fitness to practise can be a long and stressful experience for those involved. The latest improvements we are making will reduce the impacts that long-standing or multiple investigations can have on those who are the subject to an investigation, and lead to improved performance.   

The following changes have been made:  

  • We will close cases that mirror an investigation being carried out by another authority, for example the NHS or Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency at the Registrar’s direction. Cases involving an ongoing police inquiry, interim order, or where there are other open fitness to practise investigations will not be closed. 
  • We will not automatically open cases for matters referred to us from the NHS, where the NHS is either investigating or managing the issues locally. Where there is a serious and immediate risk to public safety or confidence, we will open an investigation (if, for example, the dental professional also practises privately) and, if appropriate, refer the matter to the Interim Orders Committee. 
  • We are reviewing and closing some older cases, those where there is no realistic prospect of establishing that a dental professional’s fitness to practise is impaired, following review and approval of the Registrar.    
John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise said:  

“We are looking to reduce uncertainty where we can for those who are subject to a fitness to practise investigation, because we know it can be a long and stressful position to be in. We are constrained by our legislation, but there are small changes we can make that together, with other changes we’ve made, will progress improvements in our performance and reduce the impact on those involved.”  

We will be tracking the impact of these changes, and other improvements we have made, through an updated set of key performance indicators and timeliness measures that provide a more detailed picture of case progression at each stage of the fitness to practise process.  

Find out more about these changes to our fitness to practise processes.