AN INCREASE in the number of decision meetings and hearings to clear a backlog of cases and an improved process to fast track the most serious ones are among a raft of changes announced by the GDC to improve the handling of complaints against dental professionals.
A GDC statement released today says the changes mark the first phase of a complete overhaul of its complaints handling (fitness to practise) processes.
Other measures include the provision of clinical advice at the outset in cases where this is appropriate in order to complement the early diagnosis process and ensure cases are handled appropriately. The GDC will also introduce a rigorous quality assurance process for all stages of the complaints handling process and the introduction in 2011 of a new case management database to assist workflow and provide management information.
Additional measures aimed at further improving timeliness and proportionality in fitness to practise processes will require legislative change and the GDC is working with the Department of Health to effect these. A full consultation on the nature of these changes is planned for early 2012.
Director of Regulation at the GDC, Neil Marshall, said: "We are confident that the changes we are putting in place will help us to assure the public and the dental profession that we are performing our public protection duties as efficiently and effectively as we possibly can."