Dentists have an additional 14 days to submit their comments or observations when facing allegations about their fitness to practise. 

In June 2019, the GDC consulted on changes to Rule 4.  Following the consultation, the GDC launched a nine-month pilot on the following Rule 4 changes:

  • A 14-day extension, by application, to the Rule 4-time limit (28 days) for cases involving clinical concerns, where the individual has no other fitness to practise matters being actively considered
  • Availability of clinical assessments earlier than the ‘Rule 4’ papers bundle, to facilitate efficient preparation of dental professional’s comments.

The GDC has now confirmed it has “now put in place permanent changes to our fitness to practise process to ensure we are making decisions based on the best quality information, as early as possible in the process.”

“It was suggested that providing a little more time for the submission of comments or observations could deliver beneficial outcomes for patient safety and professionals.”

John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practise, continued

“We have made some changes to our processes that will allow more time for dental professionals to submit comments or observations about fitness to practise allegations and ensure the early disclosure of clinical assessment reports provided. We have now put these changes on a permanent footing.

“It was suggested that providing a little more time for the submission of comments or observations could deliver beneficial outcomes for patient safety and professionals. That it could lead to improved observations, alleviate some of the time pressures faced by dental professionals, and help to ensure that we were fully informed of all relevant facts, as early as possible in the process.”

The effect of the changes is that dentists now have an additional 14 days, on request in certain cases, to submit their comments or observations when facing allegations about their fitness to practise. The changes apply to cases where there is no other fitness to practise matter being actively considered by the GDC, and which fall into the following categories:

  • Single patient concern – relating to clinical care and treatment provided by a dental professional. Primarily clinical, but may include concerns about conduct.
  • Dental care professional performance concern.
  • Maintenance of practice, equipment and material concerns – relating to practice maintenance, including equipment in the practice, cross infection control, and out of date medicines.

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