dentists / gdc lawyers

Dentists, dental technicians and anyone else registered with the General Dental Council (GDC), facing allegations of impairment of fitness to practise, whether it’s through their professional conduct, ill health, performance or conviction may be referred to one or more of the Practice Committees of the GDC. An investigation will be carried out and a decision made on your fitness to practise, which could result in your name being suspended or erased from the dental register.

Burton Copeland is on hand to ensure you have the right advice and representation throughout the GDC investigation. If you have been referred to the GDC and need to speak to one of our professional discipline lawyers, please call our Manchester office on 0161 827 9500, or fill in our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.

How we can help you

The professional discipline team at Burton Copeland has the expertise to help you at all stages of GDC proceedings, from the initial referral and investigation to the preparation and representation for a Professional Conduct Committee hearing, a Health Committee hearing or a criminal trial.

We can also assist dentists facing an NHS England investigation relating to Performers List Regulations.

In addition, if you are a dentist accused of committing a criminal offence, we can help you.

Our specialist solicitors can assist you in:

  • Understanding the legislation relating to the GDC and NHS England
  • Preparing responses to Case Examiners/GDC committees
  • Protecting your interests throughout GDC proceedings
  • Protecting your interests throughout an NHS England investigation
  • Appealing to the High Court or to the Court of Session, if you are registered in Scotland, regarding decisions made by the GDC
  • Appealing to the First Tier Tribunal in relation to Performers List decisions
  • Preparing for and representing you at GDC Performance Committee hearings
  • Providing advice and representation at the police station
  • Preparing for and representing you at court appearances in criminal cases

what should I do when I have been notified of a gdc investigation?

When you receive notification of an investigation by the GDC, it is important that you put yourself in the best possible position by contacting a specialist defence solicitor at Burton Copeland. Our team will look at your case, advise you on your options and provide assistance throughout the investigation to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

It is important that you do not contact the GDC directly following receipt of notification of a complaint because anything you say may be used against you at any point in the proceedings.

how does the investigation process work?

Before an investigation begins, the complaint will be sent to you and you will be afforded time to respond, should you wish to do so. The GDC will begin its investigation and may take some or all of the following steps:

  • interviewing the complainant and any other relevant parties to obtain evidence about the complaint. This may include taking witness statements from the relevant parties;
  • taking statements from employers and colleagues;
  • obtaining the complainant’s dental records.

Once the necessary information is available, the GDC case worker will refer the matter to the Case Examiners and you will then be asked to provide a response to the GDC, although such a response is not mandatory. Whether or not to respond and what to include in the response, are tactical decisions best taken after taking advice from a specialist solicitor At Burton Copeland as any comments you do make will also be sent to the complainant and can be used against you at any time by the GDC.

If you are considering whether or not to respond to a GDC complaint and what to include in any such response, please contact our specialist team who will advise you on the right tactical approach to be taken to ensure that your case is not jeopardised or prejudiced in any way.

The Case Examiners review the information provided and will decide whether or not the case warrants a referral to one of the GDC’s Practice Committees; the Professional Conduct Committee, the Professional Performance Committee or the Health Committee, depending on the circumstances of your case.

If a referral to a Practice Committee is warranted, the hearing will be held in public to decide whether you are unfit to practise and if so, what action to take against your registration. You have the right to attend this hearing and to be represented throughout.

If you are facing a GDC Practice Committee hearing, please contact the specialist team at Burton Copeland who will help you every step of the way.

what sanctions can the gdc impose?

The Case Examiners can take the following action based on evidence from the preliminary investigation:

  • conclude your case with no further action;
  • conclude your case with advice;
  • issue a formal warning on your registration;
  • refer your case to the Practice Committee for a public hearing.

If your case progresses to a Practice Committee hearing and that Committee decides to take action against your registration, the following sanctions are available to it:

  • reprimand, which is a formal statement of the GDC’s disapproval;
  • conditions that can be imposed on your registration for a set period of time not exceeding three years;
  • suspension of your registration which can be imposed for a set period of time not exceeding 12 months
  • erasure of your name from the dental register so that you cannot work in dentistry at all.

Any sanctions imposed at a Practice Committee hearing will come into effect 28 days after the decision has been made. However, if it’s deemed necessary, a sanction can be put in place immediately, notwithstanding the 28 day appeal period.

Whatever stage of an investigation your case is at, our team can provide assistance to get the most positive outcome for you.

am I able to continue working during an investigation?

You may be able to continue to practise during an investigation. However, if the Case Examiners decide that there should be an inquiry, they can refer you to an Interim Orders Committee (IOC) hearing, which can restrict your ability to work. At this hearing, the IOC will decide whether or not to impose an order of conditions or a suspension on your registration in the interim, until the Practice Committee hearing takes place.

Such decisions are made on the basis of very specific legal tests and so it is really important that you contact the specialist team at Burton Copeland as soon as you receive notification from the GDC of an Interim Orders Committee hearing so that we can make sure you get the best possible outcome.

how long do investigations take?

An investigation will typically take several months, depending on the severity of the case, what evidence is available and how long it takes the GDC to get the evidence it needs. For example, it may be necessary to obtain reports from independent dental experts, which may delay proceedings.

The GDC should, however, keep you informed at every stage of their investigation.

The specialist lawyers for dentists and dental professionals at Burton Copeland will endeavour to resolve matters as quickly as possible while ensuring that you are fully supported and the best possible outcome is achieved.

can I appeal a decision?

Once a decision has been made, you have 28 days from the date of notification to lodge an appeal to the High Court in England and Wales or to the Court of Session in Scotland.

If the sanction imposed on your registration by the Practice Committee was made immediate, the sanction will come into force as soon as notification of the sanction is deemed to have taken place and will remain in place throughout the appeal process. If a sanction imposed by a Practice Committee is not made immediate, however, the lodging of an appeal against the decision will have the effect of postponing the sanction from coming into effect until the end of the appeal period or until the appeal is withdrawn, depending on the circumstances.

If you want to appeal a decision made by the GDC, please contact us to speak to a member of our professional discipline team, if you have not done so already.

why burton copeland?

We have over 35 years' experience and our regulatory lawyers have provided advice and guidance in many cases involving dentists and dental technicians in various circumstances. We are ranked in both the Legal 500 and Chambers.

Our team will be there for you every step of the way, providing assistance when you are most likely to need it, making sure that your ordeal is as stress free as possible. We pride ourselves on handling cases with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality.

get in touch today

To speak to a member of the professional discipline team, you can either call us on 0161 827 9500, or fill in our online form and let us know a suitable time to contact you. If you want to speak to an expert outside of office hours, you can call 0161 832 7834.