Frequently asked questions
A concern has been raised about me, will I lose the right to practice?
When a concern is raised the GDC may investigate your clinical performance, health, your professional conduct or issues outside of your practice. There are several stages when looking into a concern and most concerns will not result in you being erased from the register. It is important that you engage with the process effectively so as to maximise your prospects of a positive outcome.
What will happen during an investigation?
There are a number of stages and depending on the concern and what each stage finds the case may not necessarily proceed to hearing. It is important to seek specialist advice at the outset as there may be opportunities to conclude the investigation during its early stages.
If a concern is raised about you, in the first instance it will go to the Initial assessment team who will either allocate a case worker or close the case and advise those involved. At the next stage a caseworker will involve obtaining and assessing relevant evidence and then determining whether formal allegations should be drafted for consideration by the case examiners. A caseworker may look at the following:
- in clinical cases: getting patient records and clinical advice
- in health cases: getting medical/psychological reports
- in criminal case: getting certificates of conviction and or police reports.
If the case proceeds to the case examiner stage, the evidence which has been obtained will be disclosed together with formal allegations. You will be invited to respond to those allegations and provide relevant evidence, for example references, evidence of remediation and other supporting documents. The case examiners will not make findings of fact but will determine how to dispose of the matter. This may include closing the investigation, issuing warnings, or referring the matter to a practice committee.
It is also important to note that at any stage during the investigation your case may be referred to a hearing before the Interim Orders Committee. This committee will consider whether action needs to be taken to restrict your registration while the case is ongoing.
Who will hear my case?
If the case examiners refer the matter to a hearing, this may be heard by one of a number of practice committees:
- The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) will consider allegations of professional misconduct and misconduct outside of practice which impacts upon a practitioner’s suitability to remain on the register.
- The Professional Performance Committee (PPC) looks at cases where a practitioner’s clinical performance is alleged to fall below acceptable standards.
- The Health Committee (HC) deals with cases where it is alleged that a practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of physical and/or mental health.
What sanctions could I face?
Reprimand: This is a statement of the committee's disapproval, but a practitioner remains free to practise with no restrictions and so no other action needs to be taken.
Conditions: This is where restrictions are placed on the practitioner’s registration for a set amount of time. The conditions may include requirements for supervision, training and evidencing improvement to the GDC.
Suspension: The committee can suspend a practitioner’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 practitioner’s name from the register. This means that they can no longer work in dentistry in the UK. A practitioner cannot apply for restoration until five years have elapsed.