Fitness to practise data findings for improved performance and to support learning

23 April, 2024

We are today publishing the findings from research designed to help us to unlock the potential of GDC fitness to practise data. 

Fitness to practise plays an important role in public protection, and the new findings underpin long term goals for improved timeliness and proportionality and will help us to progress work to enable learning from the process.  

The multi-method research, conducted by the University of Plymouth, was commissioned to examine our fitness to practise data and processes.  

Researchers analysed case file data recorded over a five-year period (involving around 2% of our registrant population), talked to those who work in fitness to practise, both at the GDC and at other healthcare professional regulators, and other key stakeholders. The findings include the results of a review of published evidence on how fitness to practise data is analysed and used to support learning for regulators and stakeholders.  

Researchers were able to extract broad themes and considerations from the fitness to practise data, and have identified characteristics of dental professionals that are overrepresented data when compared to the registrant population. The findings point to the complexity of cause and effect, as found elsewhere in healthcare professional regulation. We know that any analysis of risk is complex, and should not be used in isolation to draw conclusions, as other factors may be relevant. 

We have used the findings shared with us to support improved case progression and performance, which has included the development of performance measures and the initial inquiries pilot. We have more to do before data analysis can be used to infer meaningful learning for sharing with stakeholders and to inform prevention.  

We need to undertake a data maturity assessment to inform improvement priorities and opportunities, including how we might effectively record data to support understanding of considerations, contextual and human factors, and mitigation.  

These findings provide key insights that will underpin and give impetus to the work needed to enable meaningful learning and unlock the potential of our fitness to practise data. 

View the full research report.