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DDU Human Cost of GDC Delays

By Derek Pearson | 18th August 2022 | Blog

Delays in GDC cases have a human cost, DDU explains to body overseeing performance. The Dental Defence Union (DDU) is urging the GDC to re-double efforts to improve its fitness to practise processes, following a review of the regulator by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

Responding to the PSA's performance review of the GDC, for the year to 30 June 2022, the DDU said the GDC has made insufficient progress in improving the timeliness of its fitness to practise processes.

Alongside the submission, the DDU has published two examples of anonymised member cases demonstrating the human impact of delays in GDC investigations. In one case, a senior dentist was suspended for over a year and left in limbo while little progress was made in investigating the complaint against them. The suspension was finally lifted with the DDU's help.

John Makin, head of the DDU said: "Being involved in an investigation at the GDC can be one the most stressful experiences a dentist has in their career. As the cases we've published today illustrate, behind every GDC case and every statistic is a dental professional - as well as their patients, colleagues, family and friends.

"All of these people can be impacted by the unnecessarily protracted fitness to practise process. This is a point we emphasised strongly in our response to the PSA.

"Despite repeated assurances, the GDC has yet to succeed in reducing these delays. This is not good enough and improvement is required. We are committed to supporting this in any way we can. We continue to be involved in constructive discussions with the regulator as improvement is in everyone's interests; the dental team, patients, and the regulator itself."

In the response to the PSA, the DDU pointed out that in the GDC's 2021 Annual Report (page 20), the regulator stated that the median time for initial hearings to start was 337 days (11 months and 2 days) from referral by case examiners, compared to 296 days (9 months and 22 days) in 2020.

The GDC received 1,349 new concerns in 2021, compared to 1,134 in 2020 - a 19% increase. Of all cases reviewed, 87% were referred for further investigation.

Read the DDU's member case examples demonstrating the human impact of GDC delays, click HERE.

In response a spokesperson for the GDC said: "The Professional Standards Authority reviews our performance every year, and we support them seeking views from our stakeholders. We look forward to seeing the full report when it is published.

"We agree that fitness to practise cases often take too long to resolve. In large part, this is driven by our outdated and prescriptive legislation which restricts how we can approach all kinds of things, not least fitness to practise.

"We also know there are areas of our performance we need to improve and are working hard to do just that. While we await the government's regulatory reform which is so clearly needed, we will continue our work to improve wherever we can." 

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