Controversial reforms at the GDC
 

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Controversial reforms at the GDC

 

Controversial reforms at the GDC

Dentists could find that allegations made against them at preliminary fitness to practise hearings are reported in the media and the standard of proof required is reduced, under reforms proposed by the General Dental Council.

A whole raft of reforms is underway at the GDC, but the furore over the new contracts has pushed these into the background.
‘The new contracts have deflected dentists away from these proposed changes. I just hope that dentists will have had the time to respond to the consultations on the changes,’ said John Tiernan, assistant dental director at defence company, Dental Protection.

One of the proposed changes is the introduction of Interim Orders Committees which will have the power to temporarily suspend or restrict the practise of a dentist pending a hearing by the fitness to practise committee.

The IoCs will generally meet in public which means a dentist could find the allegations reported in the media before their case has been fully heard.

Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, head of the defence company, Dental Defence Union, points out that the General Medical Council which has had an Interim Orders procedure for a number of years, has always held its hearings in private.

‘Why should the GDC be any different,’ he said.

In a response made by the Dental Practitioners’ Association to the consultation, the DPA claims a ‘lack of confidentiality could have an irreversible impact on a registrant’s professional reputation’.

Another proposed change is the move to reduce the standard of proof at fitness to practise hearings.

Currently it is a criminal standard of proof where guilt has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The GDC wants to move to a lower standard of proof used in the civil courts.

John Tiernan of the DPL is ‘vehemently’ opposed to this while Linda Wallace, the British Dental Association’s director of professional services, said: ‘We would have preferred to see a more comprehensive discussion of the merits of a move to a civil standard of proof. The BDA believes that the standard of proof in such cases should be commensurate with both the gravity of the allegation and the seriousness of the consequences.’

The private complaints service is another element of the reforms set to have a big impact on dentists.

Hoppenbrouwers of the DDU, calls it more of ‘a compensation scheme than a complaints scheme’.

The proposed panel will be able to recommend that the dentist gives the patient a refund for the treatment. It can also ask the dentist to pay for remedial treatment up to the cost of the original treatment.

If the dentist refuses to comply with the panel’s recommendations he or she can be referred to the GDC’s fitness to practise procedure where their livelihood is at risk.

‘A complaints procedure should be about reconciliation and trying to resolve the situation not about punishing people,’ said Hoppenbrouwers.

The GDC hopes that the private complaints service will be up and running by May and the new fitness to practise reforms will be in place by July.

 Posted on : Tue 2nd - May - 2006

 

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