DDU welcomes GDC plans to extend fitness to practise pilot

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) has welcomed the extension of a GDC pilot aimed at speeding up the initial inquiries made to assess fitness to practise cases. The pilot, which was announced in September last year and was due to end in April, has now been extended until the end of October after ‘early positive signs’.

Of 127 cases in the initial inquiries pilot the GDC completed an assessment in 74 (58%) cases. Of these, 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. The GDC is aiming to assess cases within 30 weeks, which the DDU believes is too long.

John Makin, head of the DDU said:

“It is good to see that the GDC is at last responding to concerns about the duration and proportionality of its investigations. The extension of the pilot finally recognises the impact on the health and wellbeing of dental professionals and their families undergoing investigations.

“Of those pilot cases assessed to date, the very low percentage of cases where onward referral to case examiners was necessary shows that the majority of matters reported to the council do not amount to a fitness to practise concern.

“It remains a concern that so many registrants are unnecessarily exposed to enduring stress which is, of itself, tantamount to the imposition of a sanction. These improvements in the process are welcome, but do not alter our long-held view about unnecessary delays in the fitness to practise process. We also believe that the 30 week target the GDC has set for these cases to be assessed is far too long.”