“The General Dental Council said its plans to report on suicide rates amongst dentists under investigation will be delayed.

Last November (2022) the GDC announced its intention to collect data for the period 2019 to 2021 and publish a report on deaths by suicide while a dentist was under a fitness to practise case.

It has now announced that reporting will be delayed.  Stefan Czerniawski, GDC’s Executive Director for Strategy, said:

“The work we have done so far has identified some additional areas of complexity in gathering and interpreting evidence. We need to consider carefully how best to address those issues, so as to be sure that we are being led by the evidence and drawing on expert advice on interpreting and presenting the data. As a result, it will take longer than we had originally anticipated to collect and review evidence, and to discuss our plans and the potential risks involved with relevant experts and stakeholders.”

He reported that the main obstacles to reporting are:

  • considerable delays in the production of a death certificate, particularly in cases where a coroner’s inquest is required,
  • need for further expert advice to interpret the evidence,
  • further engagement with stakeholders.

At the same time, Dental Protection called for “radical reform” of how the GDC investigates dental professionals after its own research showed, of 125 dental professions investigated by the GDC, 82% said the investigation had a detrimental impact on their mental health and 96% said it caused stress and anxiety. 14% quit dentistry due to the investigation, and a further 38% considered leaving. Over a quarter (28%) said they experienced suicidal thoughts during the investigation.

In the survey, 82% of respondents said the length of the investigation impacted their mental health most, with some lasting several years. 74% said the tone of communications from the GDC affected them most, with one respondent describing it as ‘cold and harsh’.

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