Hearings and decisions
As part of our duty to protect the public we hold formal public hearings into cases about dental professionals.
Hearings are held once a concern about a dental professional has been looked into and the Case Examiners have decided there is a case. The case is then referred to one of the Practice Committees depending on the type of case, and a hearing is held. Practice Committee hearings form the third and last stage of our concerns handling procedure.
What can I expect at a GDC hearing?
This video briefly explains the investigations that happen throughout the fitness to practise process, resulting in many cases closing before ever reaching hearings. We then highlight the different elements of a hearing, including the various types that take place and the sanctions that can be issued when a hearing is concluded.
Who will be present at a GDC public hearing?
This video explores the different types of people who attend hearings and the roles they play in ensuring fair decisions are made.
The Practice Committees
- The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) is charged with determining whether or not a dental professional's fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of the facts found proved. Where a registrant's fitness to practise is found to be impaired the PCC decides whether to impose a sanction.
- The Professional Performance Committee (PPC) deals with cases where it appears that a dental professional's performance is consistently falling below an acceptable standard.
- The Health Committee (HC) deals with cases where the dental professional's fitness to practise is impaired by reason of ill health.
- The Interim Orders Committee (IOC) can, as an interim measure, suspend or place conditions upon a dental professional before a full inquiry by a PC. The suspension may be renewed or revoked later. At this stage it is important to note that the allegations have not been tested or proved - this is the work of the PCs.
List of sanctions
Reprimand: This is a statement of the Committee's disapproval, but the registrant is still fit to practise with no restrictions and so no other action needs to be taken.
Conditions: This is where restrictions are placed on the registrant’s registration for a set amount of time.
The conditions may include that the registrant must take further training and give us evidence to prove that they are taking steps to improve. The conditions usually have to be reviewed within a certain time. Although conditions may be tailored to fit specific circumstances, they generally follow the format set out in the Practice Committee Conditions Bank and IOC Conditions Bank.
Please read the Practice Committee Conditions Bank in conjunction with the GDC Glossary of Terms.
Occasionally, you may notice information on our online register relating to conditions which is marked "private". Material marked private is non-disclosable except to the registrant. This is because it relates to their mental or physical health or matters relating to their private and family life.
Suspension: The Committee can suspend the dental professional’s registration. This means that the registrant cannot work as a dental professional for that set period of time.
Erasure: This is the most serious sanction as it removes a registrant’s name from the register. This means that they can no longer work in dentistry in the UK.
The current guidance document in use is Guidance for the Practice Committees (including indicative sanctions guidance) - updated December 2020.
Attending a hearing
Hearings are normally held in public, but all or part of a hearing may be held in private. Anyone may attend the public parts of a hearing.
Hearings are primarily held at the General Dental Council’s head office, at 37 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8DQ.
Occasionally we may hold Hearings in other venues, we will let you know where you will need to go before the hearing.