DENTISTS who have been reported to the GDC can apply for more time to prepare their comments under a new pilot scheme.
From the end of January, dentists involved in cases relating to clinical matters can request a 14-day extension to the Rule 4 process. This is the point at which clinicians have the chance to submit comments about concerns that have been raised about them.
Currently, comments must be sent to the regulator within 14 days, but many in the profession have complained this is not enough time. These comments can play a key role for case examiners in deciding whether to conclude a case or refer it to a fitness to practise committee for hearing.
The move is in response to feedback received in the GDC’s End-to-end review of fitness to practise. The consultation showed there was support to apply a time extension to all cases, but the GDC said focusing on only clinical cases for now would ensure the pilot was "measurable and well defined".
The regulator confirmed that the pilot is "complementary to the existing arrangements for extensions".
Another key element of the nine-month pilot will see the regulator make clinical assessments available to clinicians sooner, allowing them to take this into account before submitting comments.
GDC executive director, Fitness to Practise Transition, Tom Scott, said: “We understand, and are sympathetic to, the time pressures faced by dental professionals and their representatives in the fitness to practise process.
"Extending the time frame in certain cases to ensure we receive the best possible evidence aligns with our view that we need to be fully informed of all relevant facts as early as possible."