GDC fitness to practise proceedings involve 3 Practice Committees who hear different types of allegations:
- The GDC’s Professional Conduct Committee considers GDC fitness to practise allegations relating to misconduct and criminal conviction/caution cases.
- The GDC’s Professional Performance Committee considers allegations relating to deficient professional performance.
- The GDC’s Health Committee considers fitness to practise allegations relating to the physical or mental health of the registrant.
Each of the 3 GDC fitness to practise committees have their own individual guidance which they must follow. However, in general terms, each Practice Committee follows the same 3 stage process.
GDC Fitness to Practise Hearings
A GDC fitness to practise hearing is conducted in 3 stages: fact finding, impairment and sanction.
- Fact Finding. The committee will decide if the allegations against the registrant are proven. In some cases, this will already be admitted by the registrant, but in many cases the factual allegations will be denied. Where there is a dispute about the facts, the committee will hear evidence from witnesses and will decide which, if any, of the allegations are proven. If the allegations are not proven, the case is then closed. If any of the allegations are found proven, the committee will move onto the next stage in the GDC fitness to practise hearing; impairment.
- Impairment. If the committee has concluded that the factual allegations against the dentist or dental professional are proven, then it will hear representations from both sides on whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. Impairment means that a sanction against a registrant’s registration is necessary. If impairment is found, the committee will then move onto the next stage in the GDC fitness to practise hearing; sanction.
- Sanction. If a committee concludes that the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, then they will decide what is the most appropriate sanction to impose. The committee will hear further representations from both sides and will consider any mitigation presented.
The Committee will refer to the GDC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance, although they retain significant discretion when deciding what the most appropriate sanction will be.
The sanctions available to the Committees in GDC fitness to practise proceedings are as follows:
- Erasure – (unless impairment is solely due to health reasons);
- Suspension for a maximum of 12 months;
- Conditions for a maximum of 3 years;