Dental professionals and GDC proceedings
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If you are being investigated by the General Dental Council (GDC), our specialist Disciplinary and Regulatory solicitors can provide expert legal advice and representation.
The GDC is responsible for the regulation of dental professionals in the United Kingdom. Registered Dental Care Professionals must comply with the Standards for the Dental Team. If concerns are raised about fitness to practice then the GDC has a legal obligation to investigate such complaints.
What is a GDC investigation?
If the GDC receives a complaint about a dentist or dental care professional, then it will investigate that complaint. Firstly, this means that it will decide whether or not it is the appropriate body to investigate. This means an initial investigation process to determine whether or not the complaint ought to be referred to the casework investigation team to look into the complaint further. If the matter is referred to the casework investigation team then you will be notified of the fact of the complaint.
Should I self-report?
You have obligation to make a report to the GDC immediately if:
- You are subject to any criminal proceedings anywhere in the world (i.e. if you are formally charged with an offence);
- You are the subject of fitness to practice proceedings brought by any regulator anywhere in the world;
- A finding has been made against you by any healthcare regulator anywhere in the world;
- You are placed on a barred list by the DBS either here or in Scotland.
A failure to notify in such circumstances will likely result in disciplinary fitness to practice proceedings.
I have been notified that the GDC is investigating a complaint what should I do?
You should acknowledge receipt of the correspondence. You have an obligation to comply with any GDC investigation (see Principle 9 Standards for the Dental Team). You should seek specialist legal advice before providing any substantive response.
What do the casework investigation team do?
The casework investigation team will look into the complaint and obtain information and evidence to establish whether or not the matter should be referred to the case examiners. In essence, the casework investigation team decide whether the matter ought to be investigated more fully. If so, the matter is referred to the case examiners. If not, you will be notified that the matter is closed.
What do the case examiners do?
The case examiners decide whether or not there is a ‘case to answer’. They will examine the information and evidence passed to them by the casework investigation team. They will write to you and send you a copy of the material gathered in support of the investigation invite your written to response to the complaints raised. You are advised to seek legal advice about this response if you have not already done so. Your response is very important and may make an important difference to how the case proceeds. Having received your written submissions, the case examiners will decide how the matter proceeds.
They may decide:
- To take no action
- To issue a letter of advice
- To issue a warning
- To refer the matter to a Practice Committee
What is a Practice Committee?
There are three Practice Committees:
- The Professional Conduct Committee
- The Professional Performance Committee
- The Health Committee
A date will be fixed for a final public hearing which is prosecuted by the GDC. Directions will be given for the service of evidence. The Committee will consist of a mixture of dental professionals and lay persons. After hearing the evidence, the Committee will decide if the GDC case is made out to the civil standard ‘on a balance of probabilities’.
If the Committee finds that any of the allegations are proven it will go on to decide the appropriate sanction. Possible sanctions include:
- A reprimand
- The imposition of conditions on practice
- Erasure from the register
Interim Orders Committee
The Interim Orders Committee (IoC) has the power to impose orders restricting or preventing the ability of a dental professional to practice pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings. The predominant consideration for the IOC will be the risk to the public in allowing the Registrant to continue to practice without restrictions. The IOC has the power to suspend a Registrant or impose conditions restricting practice.
Why should I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
We have extensive experience in handling GDC investigations from the outset where focus on the relevant issues and quality written submissions are of paramount importance. We also have a range of expertise at the firm to deal with related matters such as criminal prosecution and privacy applications. We will undertake a detailed analysis of the issues in the case at the outset and give you straightforward and honest advice on strategy.
We have long-standing working relationships with the best regulatory KCs and junior barristers to match your budget, whom we can instruct to advise in more complex cases and to represent you at the IOC or at Practice Committee if the need arises.
We are recognised in the prestigious Legal 500 directory for our work in the field of professional discipline. The department is described in the Legal 500 2021 directory as providing ‘unmatchable service and value for clients’ and ‘dedicated and relentless’.
How do I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
You should contact one of our team to discuss your case and arrange a preliminary consultation. We will provide with written details of our fee structure. The first step is to attend a preliminary consultation. At the consultation we will advise you on the investigation, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options. We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation. The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.
Consultations take place in our London offices or by Teams/Zoom/telephone. We can also travel to you.
To request a consultation please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 3811 2782. If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.
Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.
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