Fitness to practise initial inquiries pilot extended and scope widened

07 May, 2024

We announced in September last year that we would be undertaking a six-month initial inquiries pilot. The pilot was due to end in April but will now be extended for a further six months to provide a larger data set for analysis and evaluation of performance over a longer period. 

As well as expanding the pilot’s run-time, we will also be extending the criteria to include any registrant who has had a concern raised about them more than 12 months ago and closed with no action before case examiner stage.

We have seen early positive signs from the pilot approach so far. Caseworkers have reported that dental professionals have been responsive to requests for patient records which is providing for significant reductions in the time it takes to close a case. 

By the end of April, we had opened 127 cases in the initial inquiries pilot and completed an assessment in 74 (58%) cases. Of these, just eight cases (10%) were referred to case examiners for a decision and all remaining cases were closed. 

The average time taken to complete the assessment stage was 12 weeks, and the median 11 weeks. We are currently working to performance measures to assess cases within 30 weeks, so the early signs are positive. 

We need the continued cooperation of dental professionals for the approach to succeed.

The pilot will now run until the end of October 2024. 

Theresa Thorp, Executive Director, Regulation, said:  

“The early signs look positive from our fitness to practise pilot, so we are pleased to extend and expand its scope. We know that investigations can be complex and lengthy, which can have an impact on the health and wellbeing of those involved. 

“We are committed to improving our processes within the current legislation and we hope that, by working with others, we can continue to see improvements in timeliness without affecting the quality of investigation outcomes.” 

Find out more about the initial inquiries pilot