Research commissioned by the General Dental Council has supplied the regulator with data on how it can improve its fitness to practise work.

The GDC commissioned the University of Plymouth to: 

  • examine case file data recorded over a five-year period (these cases involved around 2% of our registrant population) 
  • speak with those who work in fitness to practise at the GDC and at other healthcare professional regulators, and interview some of our key stakeholders
  • review published evidence on how fitness to practise data is analysed and used to support learning for regulators and stakeholders.  

Writing on its website, the GDC said:

“The work was commissioned to underpin two important workstreams. The first to inform ongoing work to improve our fitness to practise processes and performance, and the second to understand what steps we need to take to ensure we can infer meaningful learning from the process that can be shared with stakeholders and inform prevention strategies.”

UK Fitness to Practise News

Conclusions & Implications

The research suggests a number of ways in which GDC’s Fitness to Practise can be improved:

  • Train and upskill all GDC staff regarding fitness to practise (process, strategy, and systems) regardless of organisational structure.
  • Improve current data collection, storage, management and reporting processes for both quantitative and qualitative data. Ideas include for example: centralise fitness to practise admin processes; appoint an overall fitness to practise project manager; data mine at source to identify more detailed and categorical data in the same format for use in descriptive and inferential statistical analysis; use of cover sheet for case files; store by registrant then case consistent use of terminology across data and processes, expert staff input at Initial Assessment and Casework stages.
  • Align terminology related to fitness to practise across all regulatory activities.
  • Develop a shared and agreed considerations list with associated categorical data collection.
    Explore development of an updated and enhanced data management system.
  • Define and share a communication strategy with external stakeholders for use of fitness to practise data across other areas of activity. Consider development of a contemporaneous dashboard for internal use and a shared, validated tool for external use.
  • Explore potential for additional research to investigate: contextual factors in fitness to practise including non-UK qualified registrants, the role of secondarily identified
    considerations, including record keeping, undergraduate and postgraduate exam performance related to later fitness to practise processes and the use of Big Data to support fitness to practise data management.

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