NEW GDC case examiners will begin assessing complaints against registrants as of 1 November.
This means that cases will no longer be referred to an investigating committee for a decision, but will instead be considered by case examiners to determine whether an allegation should go to a practice committee.
Case examiners will make no findings of fact in a case or come to substantive conclusions regarding a registrant’s fitness to practise but will instead be asked to determine whether an allegation should be further considered.
Each case will be assessed by a pair of case examiners (one lay and one a dentist or dental care professional) who will review all relevant evidence obtained during an investigation, including any evidence provided by the registrant in question or the informant. Essentially they will conduct a "filtering process", closing some cases and referring others for a full hearing before a practice committee.
A consultation on the change was undertaken in February 2016. Director of Fitness to Practise at the General Dental Council Jonathan Green said: "When someone is being investigated by the GDC, we recognise this places the person under considerable stress and anxiety. While we absolutely have a duty to protect patients by taking swift action against those who should not be practising dentistry, we must make the entire process as efficient, seamless and timely as possible by providing the necessary support.
"Introducing case examiners with a power to agree undertakings with practitioners, means that we will see more complaints dealt with without the need for a practice committee hearing. This should lead to significant reduction in stress for practitioners, as well as ensuring, for all concerned, that suitable cases are resolved earlier and with less expense."