Professionals without legal representation face much tougher sanctions at GDC hearings

The results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the General Dental Council (GDC) by Dental Protection demonstrate how important it is for dental professionals to have legal and dento-legal support when faced with GDC proceedings.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of dentists erased from the register following a GDC hearing in 2018 did not have any legal representation. In contrast, 9 in 10 dentists (92%) were found not to be impaired in their Fitness To Practice (FTP) had legal representation when they appeared before the GDC. They continued to practise without any sanction.

This data emphasises the need for dental professionals to be supported by a dental defence organisation that will protect their interests before the GDC.

Having specialist legal representation is important throughout all stages of an investigation and not just for the hearing. Early engagement with the team of specialist advisers will often mean that hearings, or even warnings, may be avoided altogether. This could also involve bringing legal proceedings against the GDC on behalf of a member. For instance, in late 2018, Dental Protection brought Judicial Review proceedings against the GDC’s decision to issue a warning to a member who had committed a minor driving offence. In this case, Dental Protection successfully argued that a GDC warning would be a disproportionate and unfair sanction by the regulator in these circumstances.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said:

These figures released by the GDC show just how important it is to have a good defence team if you are the subject of a GDC investigation.

“The investigation process can be lengthy and very distressing for professionals who fear that their reputation and professional livelihood can be at stake.

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