The General Dental Council - proposed amendments to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of its fitness to practise processes

Closed 21 Nov 2014

Opened 26 Sep 2014


We are seeking views on a number of proposals that aim to make the GDC’s early investigation stage fitness to practise processes more effective and efficient, by making amendments to the Dentists Act 1984.  This consultation therefore seeks comments and views on the draft Order ‘The General Dental Council (Fitness to Practise etc.) Order 2015’, which is the vehicle by which the proposed changes will be made.

Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of professional regulation is to set standards of training, conduct and competence for each statutorily regulated profession to ensure that professionals work to an expected standard.  Professional regulation’s ultimate aim is the protection of the public.  This is underpinned by practitioners’ personal accountability for maintaining safe and effective practice, wherever they are employed.  Regulators must have in place effective measures to deal with individuals whose continuing practice presents a risk to the public, or otherwise renders them unfit to be a registered member of the profession.   

Under the Dentists Act 1984, the General Dental Council (GDC) has the responsibility for the above functions in respect of dentists and Dental Care Professionals (DCPs).  There are difficulties for the GDC in making its early investigatation processes more efficient without changes to the legislation.  The Government therefore intends to lay an Order under Section 60 of the Health Act 1999 to make a small number of amendments to the  Dentists Act 1984.  These amendments will:

  • enable the GDC to delegate the decision-making functions currently exercised by its Investigating Committee to officers of the GDC, known as Case Examiners,
  • enable both case examiners and the Investigating Committee to address concerns about a registrant’s practice by agreeing undertakings with that registrant,
  • introduce a power to review cases closed following an  investigation if the decision is materially flawed or new information has come to light which may have altered that decision, and
  • ensure registrants can be referred to an Interim Orders Committee at any time during the fitness to practise process.


As these proposals concern amendments to devolved professions (dental nurses, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians and orthodontic therapists) Ministers in Scotland are also under a statutory obligation to consult on the draft Order.  Therefore, the Scottish government are also jointly consulting using this consultation paper for professions for whom responsibility is devolved in Scotland.

What Happens Next

A summary of the response to this consultation will be made available before or alongside any further action, such as laying legislation before Parliament, and will be placed on the GOV.UK website (


  • Advocacy or support organisations
  • Dentists
  • Regulatory body
  • Employer representatives
  • Employee representatives
  • Trade union
  • Royal Colleges
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Carers


  • Complaints
  • Regulation