The General Dental Council (GDC) are consulting on proposals that will mean all practice committee and registration appeal committee hearings will be held remotely by default, while providing for requests for hearings to be held in-person to be considered and decided fairly.

The process for deciding whether a hearing is held in-person or remotely (or both, referred to as a hybrid) is currently set out in guidance for directions made at preliminary meetings. The GDC initially consulted on the process in 2021 as the dental regulator emerged from the pandemic, but it committed to consulting with stakeholders again if we wanted to make a permanent change to its approach.

The GDC noted that around 90% of its hearings are currently held remotely, saying

“Since 2022, we have had 42 applications for a hearing to be held either in-person or hybrid, with only five of these applications not accepted. Where parties do not agree on the format of a hearing, directions have been provided by a panel chair or panel members at a preliminary meeting.”

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Executive Manager, Dental Professionals Hearings Service, John Cullinane said:

“We think there are considerable benefits to holding hearings remotely, not least savings in travel and accommodation costs, but also reductions in lost hearing days due to travel disruptions and increased participation from those who find it difficult to be away from home.

“Since we started holding most of our hearings remotely, we have introduced additional support for all hearing participants by providing specific guidance on attending a remote hearing and introducing a Participant Support Officer to address the challenges that these types of proceedings may present.

“Our view is that the process for deciding the format of hearings has been working well, and that we can now realise the benefits for all parties by making the process permanent.”

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