The Dental Professionals Hearings Service is changing the way that admissions made by dental professionals are handled at the preliminary stage of a fitness to practise hearing, to help increase capacity by reducing the time it takes to complete a substantive hearing. The Dental Professionals Hearings Service holds independent hearings for cases brought to it by the General Dental Council (GDC) about dental professionals’ fitness to practise and registration. It is separate to our investigation function. The change being made by the Dental Professional Hearings Service aligns the process of the making of admissions to what is routine practice in adjudicatory contexts, and has been made following discussions with key stakeholders. The changes being made to the admissions process will come into effect on 31 October, and will affect those who are subject to a fitness to practise hearing, and those who represent them. Any hearings previously opened, and resumed after this date, will be subject to the processes in effect when the hearing was opened. Dental professionals will be asked whether they admit to any of the charges set out for the fitness to practise hearing at the end of the preliminary stage. Where an admission is made, the practice committee will proceed on the basis that the facts have been proved. The previous process required the presentation of evidence in relation to all charges. On its website, the GDC said:
The GDC is continually looking for ways to improve performance within our current legislative constraints. The change being implemented by the Dental Professionals Hearings Service forms part of a wider programme of work to improve performance in fitness to practise. Improvements are being made, where possible, ahead of regulatory reform.