Dentistry Regulation and Disciplinary

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Professional Defence Solicitors for Dentists 

If the General Dental Council (GDC) has made allegations against you or has confirmed its intentions to investigate your practice, the consequences for your reputation can be severe. The professional defence solicitors at JMW have helped many dentists and dental practitioners successfully defend against a variety of charges. 

Following a GDC investigation, dentists can be struck off, or face hearings that seriously damage their professional reputation and ability to work. This is just one reason why specialist legal services and practical advice are vital. The team at JMW Solicitors will work tirelessly to help you to secure your desired outcome, and your professional future.

We are highly knowledgeable on all aspects of professional regulation, particularly as it concerns dental practice. We will advise you on your rights and means of legal recourse when you are facing a professional discipline issue.

If you are being investigated by the GDC, contact us by calling 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form to speak to a solicitor. If your matter is urgent, our solicitors can help you 24 hours a day, so you can access expert legal advice whenever you need it.

How JMW Can Help 

Our team will examine the specific circumstances of your case and support you throughout the entire process, helping you to appeal against any decisions that you believe to be unjustified and working to protect your professional standing. 

We have acted on cases involving: 

  • Poor performance 
  • Criminal behaviour 
  • Serious misconduct 
  • Professionals who are suffering from mental health issues and may be deemed unfit to practice 

We have many years of experience in handling GDC investigations. As well as criminal allegations made against dental professionals, we are best placed to help you:

  • Understand GDC legislation 
  • Prepare responses to GDC committees
  • Represent you during GDC hearings 
  • Understand possible sanctions and defences
  • Instruct expert witnesses, where required
  • Provide advice during police station interviews 
  • Appeal decisions made by the GDC 

Whether you have received a referral, are currently under investigation or are facing a hearing or trial, we can provide expert preparation and representation that protects your interests. 

In addition, we can assist with matters such as: 

  • Guidance on the procedure for disciplinary hearings
  • Preparing for interviews and helping you to draft written representations and responses 
  • Advising on legal challenges and appeals made against a regulatory decision 
  • Providing legal support for individuals facing penalties and disqualification 

All dentists in the UK are regulated by the GDC, a body tasked with setting standards and taking action against medical professionals who breach laws and regulation. All UK dentists must register with the GDC, while other dental professionals who are also regulated by the GDC include: 

  • Clinical dental technicians 
  • Hygienists 
  • Nurses
  • Technicians 
  • Dental and orthodontic therapists 

No matter your role, if you are a dental professional facing an investigation by the GDC, contact the team at JMW Solicitors today for expert advice and support.

What Our Clients Say

FAQs About GDC Investigations and Prosecutions

What should I do if I have received a notification from the GDC?

If you have received a notification from the GDC of an investigation, you should not directly respond without first seeking initial legal advice, as almost anything you say to the GDC may be used in evidence.

It is vital you have the best legal support throughout the investigative process, ensuring you are aware of your options and understand the best course of action to take. Contact the experienced team of dental solicitors at JMW, and we can offer advice on your next steps. The sooner you start to build your defence, the better your chances of a successful resolution to your case.

Pragmatic advice from our expert dental lawyers can also help to ensure you fully comply with the investigation, while minimising any risk to yourself. Even if you have done nothing wrong, there is often a risk of self-incrimination. However, our solicitors will prepare you ahead of any interviews and can represent you to ensure you only provide information that you are legally required to divulge, and that you are not made to answer irrelevant questions.

What can trigger a GDC investigation?

There are many reasons that the GDC might decide to investigate dentists and dental practices. The organisation may act in response to complaints raised by patients, fellow dentists or other professionals.

The GDC also operates the Dental Complaints Service, which patients and professionals can use to report dental negligence or other concerns about a private dental practice, dentist or service.

The GDC's investigating committee has a legal obligation to investigate any complaints or allegations that a registrant is no longer fit to practise.

How can I defend myself against allegations of dental negligence?

The best way to defend yourself and your reputation during a GDC investigation is to work with an expert dental lawyer. The experienced team of dental law solicitors at JMW provides a comprehensive range of legal services to support clients with investigations by regulatory bodies.

This starts with discussing the circumstances of the investigation and any complaints made against you. From there, we will gather evidence and begin to build your case. Thanks to our experience, we have developed relationships with relevant expert witnesses, whom we may also call upon to provide testimony. We will represent you and ensure your rights are upheld during any interviews and hearings, should this be necessary. This will also allow us to ensure that the investigation proceeds according to the law, and that you comply with the investigation so as to avoid any consequences or penalties that might otherwise arise.

What happens during the GDC investigation process?

When the GDC conducts an investigation, there are a number of steps the body will take to gather evidence. These steps include: 

  • Taking written statements from the complainant and any other relevant parties 
  • Interviewing employers and colleagues 
  • Obtaining the complainant’s dental records 

Once evidence has been gathered, your case will be examined and you will be asked to provide a response. Our solicitors can assist you in writing a suitable reply.

The case examiners will review all the information that has been provided, deciding whether the case should be referred to one of the GDC’s Practice Committees, which include: 

  • The Professional Conduct Committee 
  • The Professional Performance Committee 
  • The Health Committee 

If there are no grounds for a referral to be made, your case could conclude with no action. 

Alternatively, it could be concluded with advice, or a formal warning could be issued on your registration. 

If a referral is made to one of the Committees, you will be invited to a public hearing where your fitness to practise will be judged and a sanction will be decided.

What are the potential outcomes of a GDC Committee hearing?

At the end of a GDC hearing, you could face one of the following sanctions depending on the committee’s decision: 

  • A formal statement of the GDC’s disapproval could be issued
  • Conditions could be set on your registration for a maximum of three years
  • Suspension of your registration for a maximum of 12 months
  • Permanent removal from the dental registry

The GDC does not mediate civil disputes, and the investigation process cannot result in an order to pay compensation. However, findings may be used as evidence in dental negligence claims, and if you are found to have given negligent treatment to a patient, you may also be required to pay them compensation.

What happens at a hearing?

Cases are usually heard in public. However, they can be heard partly or fully in private if there is good reason to do so.

A fitness to practice panel will sit in the hearing. The fitness to practice panel is made up of both independent lay people and dental professionals. They will sit through the hearing and listen to the evidence presented to them. They determine the question of whether the dental professional’s fitness to practice is impaired.

One of the fitness to practice panellists will take on the role of chairing the hearing. There is a Committee Secretary who ensures that the business of the hearing is conducted properly. There will also be a legal advisor present at the hearing who is either a Solicitor or Barrister. However, they cannot advise how best to present your case. The role of the legal advisor is to explain the legal process and that is all. As a result, it is important to seek independent legal representation.

The Committee Secretary and Legal Advisor play no role in the decision-making process.

Lawyers who have been instructed by the GDC and the accused professional are there to present both sides of the case and question witnesses.

What different types of hearings are there?

There are 3 categories of committees: conduct, performance, and health. These hearings are used to determine if the professional’s fitness to practice is impaired or not. At each hearing, there will be dental care professionals as well as lay people. The different types of committee hearings are as follows:

  • Professional conduct committee hearings determine if there has been any misconduct;
  • Professional performance committee hearings look to see if the performance is deficient in any way; and
  • Health committee hearings look to see if performance might be deficient on the ground of physical or mental health.

In cases where there has been more than one type of allegation, there will be overlap between the hearing types.

What is the role of the GDC case examiners?

The GDC case examiners work to resolve public protection issues. Each case will be considered by 2 case examiners. In the process of doing so, they review details and reach decisions on issues about registered dental professionals.

The case examiners will wait until all the relevant evidence and information is available to them. This will include comments by the dental professional who is subject to the investigation.

If the case examiners do not think the case needs a hearing, they might decide on one of the following outcomes:

  • Adjourn the case for further information;
  • Close the case and take no further action;
  • Issue a letter of advice;
  • Issue a warning (published or unpublished to the register);
  • Invite the dental professional to agree to a series of undertaking; or
  • Refer the Dental Professionals Hearings Service

Talk to Us

If you have been accused of breaching dental regulations, it is imperative for you to seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. The dental law solicitors at JMW can help you to build the strongest possible defence. Call us on 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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