The General Dental Council said it will undertake research to consider the number of dental professionals who have died while under fitness to practise investigation.

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC’s Executive Director for Strategy, acknowledged “that the current process is more onerous and cumbersome than it should be. That is largely the product of our over-prescriptive legislation, and so for many it is the process as much as the eventual outcome which is a cause of stress.”

He said that the GDC does not hold data on “registrants under investigation may take their own lives” but went on to say:

“Because there has been concern about the matter, we think it is appropriate to develop an accurate picture of the prevalence of suicide while a fitness to practise case is active.

“We intend to do that in the first instance by undertaking a research project to collect data for the period 2019 – 2021 and publishing a report of this in the first half of 2023. We will aggregate data over three years to minimise the risk of identifying individuals, and we will allow a twelve-month period for inquests to be completed and final death certificates to become available. In developing our approach, we have drawn on the work the General Medical Council has undertaken to gather and publish similar data for medical registrants. We aim to publish data in a similar format to that used by the GMC and, like them, if the total number of cases is below three we will indicate that, but not disclose the specific count – again that is to protect the anonymity of individuals.”

He warned, however, that the GDC “will not provide any commentary on the results, as the fact that someone has taken their own life does not provide an explanation of why they did so.”

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