The General Dental Council referred 38% less fitness to practise cases to a fitness to practise committee compared to 2019.

Reporting on the GDC’s Fitness to Practise performance, GDC Chief Executive, said the regulator received 1,134 new concerns in 2020, compared to 1,362 in 2019 – an 18% reduction.  Of all the cases reviewed at initial assessment, 81% were referred for assessment.

After further investigation, the GDC made 904 assessment decisions in 2020, compared to 886 in 2019.  It referred 46% of the cases reviewed at assessment stage to Case Examiners and closed 54% of cases at this stage.  Following Case Examiner review, 10% of the total were closed with no further action, 12% closed with advice, warning or undertakings and 15% were referred to a Practice Committee. Of this 15%, 11% resulted in sanctions and 4% resulted in no further action.

Case Examiners made decisions in just under half of all concerns received, a 34% decrease in decisions made compared to 2019 (691), which “reflects the fall in fitness to practise cases received since 2018.” Of the 455 cases, the Case Examiners closed 60% of them, referred 39% to a Practice Committee and agreed undertakings in a further 1% of cases.

Fitness to Practise hearings

The Practice Committees completed 92 initial hearings in 2020, a reduction from the 141 initial hearings held in 2019. This reduction is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the postponement of initial hearings between March and July.

The median time for initial hearings to start was 296 days (9 months and 22 days) from referral by case examiners, compared to 263 days (8 months and 18 days) in 2019. 44% started within 9 months of referral, compared to 60% in 2019. The average length of an initial hearing was 5.3 days, compared to 4.9 days in 2019.

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