Dental professionals subject to General Dental Council fitness to practise proceedings can request reviews of decisions under certain circumstances, potentially proving opportunity for early and positive resolution to investigations.
The General Dental Council’s review processes can provide an opportunity for dentists and other registered dental professionals to, under certain circumstances, get an early and positive outcome to a fitness to practise investigation and proceedings.
The use of the Rule 6E review process is not rare. In 2018, the Professional Standards Authority’s performance review of the GDC noted that in 17/18, the GDC considered 48 Rule 6E requests. Out of the 48 cases, Case Examiners made a different determination in 35 (72%) of those cases.
The above suggests that, under the right circumstances, a Rule 6E review can be an effective means to seek an early and positive resolution to GDC fitness to practise investigations.
Key to this however is the right legal advice and representation. Aside from the need to ensure the process is carefully followed, engaging expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity will benefit dental professionals greatly. Early engagement will ensure opportunities to engage in the GDC’s review procedures can be identified and capitalised on.
“Rule 6E” Reviews
Where the Case Examiners have made a decision to refer a case to a GDC practice committee, the Case Examiners can be asked to review and, if appropriate, revise their decision that an allegation or allegations ought to be considered by a committee.
This process is known as a “Rule 6E” review application, as it is set out in Rule 6E of the General Dental Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2006. A Rule 6E review application can be made by the Registrant who is the subject of the allegation(s).
GDC Case Examiners can, amongst other things, refer a case to one of the GDC’s Practice Committees.
A Rule 6E review application can be made at any point after the Case Examiners have referred an allegation(s) to a practice committee but before the commencement of the hearing or before the committee has begun its consideration of written statements or representations.
Please note that Rule 6E reviews do not apply to cases which has been referred by the Investigating Committee. It is also worth noting that lodging of a Rule 6E review application will not necessarily mean that the fitness to practise process is halted, or that an upcoming committee hearing will be adjourned.
New Evidence or Change of Circumstances
Rule 6E review applications are often made where either, the circumstances of the original case considered by the Case Examiners have changed, or additional evidence which is relevant to the case has been obtained.
Therefore, a Rule 6E review allows a Registrant to present new evidence to Case Examiners or notify them of a material change in circumstances that might have an impact on the outcome of the investigation.
Other parties involved in a fitness to practise investigation, such as the Registrar or complainant, will have a right to also submit comments in relation to the application for review.
How long does a Rule 6E review take?
The GDC’s guidance states that it will aim to ensure a Rule 6E application is listed for reconsideration by the Case Examiners “as soon as possible, bearing in mind the steps that have to be taken to comply with the legislative regime and matters of practicality.” Ordinarily, an application will be reviewed by the Case Examiners approximately 6 –8 weeks after the application is received.
Kings View Chambers
Specialist healthcare and medical regulation defence barristers dealing with all fitness to practise matters before:
- General Medical Council
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- General Dental Council
- Nursing & Midwifery Council
- Health and Care Professions Council
- Social Work England
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