We have today published updated guidance for the Interim Orders Committee, part of the independent Dental Professionals Hearings Service.
Our public consultation held earlier this year proposed updates to the Interim Orders Committee guidance and supporting documents. These changes will promote consistency in the approach to immediate risks to public safety and confidence and support decision-making that is proportionate and appropriate to the risks posed.
The Interim Orders Committee is responsible for considering and controlling immediate and serious risks to public safety and confidence. It does this through assessing risk, and deciding whether it is necessary to restrict a dental professional’s registration to protect the public, patients or the registrant concerned while an investigation takes place. The revisions to the guidance support proportionality, consistency and timeliness in decision-making by the Committee.
Data shows that, of the 146 cases presented to the Interim Orders Committee for the first time in 2022, interim conditions were placed on a dental professional’s registration in 51 cases and 42 interim suspensions were imposed. It was determined that 53 did not pose an immediate or serious risk, so no order was imposed.
The updated guidance and supporting documents will come into effect on 18 December and will be of particular interest to independent fitness to practise panellists, those who are subject to an Interim Orders Committee hearing or review, and lawyers and advisers who represent dental professionals.
The improvements give additional weight to the seriousness of concerns relating to sexual assault, harassment and violence. Additional guidance has also been provided on adjournments and postponements to ensure hearings on issues which potentially pose immediate and serious risks are not delayed unnecessarily.
This is another of the improvements to fitness to practise processes that we are committed to making, within our legislative constraints, to promote timely decisions that are fair, consistent and proportionate.
We consulted with stakeholders from November 2022 to February 2023. The results, including details of the changes made as a result of the consultation exercise, are set out in the consultation outcome report.
Gurvinder Soomal, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, said:
“We have made necessary improvements to these proposed documents with the support of our stakeholders. We want to thank those who reviewed these documents and provided detailed and constructive responses. The updated guidance will support consistent and proportionate decision making by the Committee, while securing public safety and the high levels of public confidence in the dental professions.”