General Dental Council’s Head of Right Touch Regulation shares his thoughts on the DHSC’s reform proposals and what this might mean for the GDC.

Speaking about the current fitness to practise system, Dr Toby Ganley observed that:

“Excessively prescriptive and outdated legislation, particularly around our fitness to practise processes, has limited the degree to which we are able to move our attention ‘upstream’, and to be more targeted, proportionate and agile, in those instances when we need to intervene.”

However, he said:

“The ability to write our own rules and the proposed building in of discretion into the fitness to practise process will enable us to move further towards being a right touch regulator, increasing our agility and our ability to target our interventions to risk. However, it is not a panacea.”

Speaking what the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation means for the GDC, he said the three-stage process is proposed for all healthcare regulators “would introduce a welcome element of discretion, compared with our current legislation, which obliges us to refer any information that may amount to an allegation of impaired fitness to practise to case examiners.

“We would also be able to develop our own criteria for referral onward through the fitness to practise process. That should increase our ability to close cases where the issues involved are not particularly serious, before they get to case examiners.

“Once a case is referred to case examiners, they would have access to the same suite of outcomes as a panel would, and these could be used, where this was agreed with the registrant. This would potentially enable faster and less adversarial conclusions to be reached, as they would not have to go before a panel.”

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