General Dental Council introduces case examiners

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General Dental Council introduces case examiners

Case examiners are to carry out the decisions currently made by the GDC’s Investigating Committee. (Photograph: Bacho/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Wed. 2 November 2016


LONDON, UK: As part of legislative changes implemented earlier this year, the General Dental Council (GDC) introduced case examiners on Tuesday. They will carry out the decisions currently made by the body’s Investigating Committee in an effort to streamline the GDC’s fit for practice process.

The measure is part of a three-year road map aimed at making dental regulation in the UK less costly and more effective. It was approved by both the Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament in April.

According to the GDC, case examiners will have the authority to agree upon undertakings, including further training or ceasing aspects of practice, until retraining has been completed with dental professionals under investigation, thus preventing them from having to go through lengthy and potentially stressful Practice Committee hearings. This way, it is intended that only the most serious cases will continue to the process of a full hearing, the GDC said.

When there is a realistic prospect of the dental practitioner’s fitness to practise being impaired, case examiners will have the opportunity to refer the case to one of the three Practice Committees.

By reducing the number of cases heard by the regulatory body, the organisation hopes to save £1.8 million per year.

Working in pairs, the 14 case examiners—a mixture of clinical and lay members—will assess the evidence gathered during an investigation. In addition to undertakings or agreements, they will have the option to issue a warning or take no further action and close a case.

“The new mechanism is about patient safety as Case Examiners will be able to make agreements with the dental professional much earlier in the FtP process than ever before,” said Jonathan Green, Director of Fitness to Practise at the GDC.

“We can take action straight away to support the dental professional to improve his practice. Allowing a dental professional to improve patient care by raising standards through continuing education and feeding back any relevant learning to the profession, rather than taking punitive action through a stressful hearings process, is much better for all concerned,” he added.

The GDC received over 3,000 cases in 2014 according to its annual report.

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