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The choice of in-person hearings is key to fairness, says Dental Protection


  Posted by: Dental Design      13th February 2024

Dental Protection has urged the General Dental Council (GDC) to safeguard the option for dental professionals to choose in-person hearings in the interests of fairness and justice.

In its consultation response, Dental Protection reiterates that dental professionals should not have to fight for the right to appear in person before the regulator that is bringing an action against them.

Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “The consequences of a GDC investigation for the dental professional can be profound so it is only right that if they wish to appear in person then they should be afforded this opportunity without the need for an application.

“Our view is that the default position should be that substantive hearings are in person save where it is agreed by the parties that they be remote or hybrid. While both parties may be content with fully remote hearings for the most part, this should not be interpreted by the GDC as an indicator for dental professionals to lose their right to have an in-person or hybrid hearing if they wish this.

“Not every dental professional is suited to facing a virtual hearing – those who are neurodivergent or struggle with mental health would benefit from an in-person hearing surrounded by a supportive network. We also know that a dental professional’s credibility can be assessed from their demeanour to an extent, which is better observed in person.

“If the default position of substantive hearings being virtual is coupled with a drive to reduce costs, it is likely that the GDC could be under pressure to push for remote hearings as much as possible, to the disadvantage of dental professionals. We believe they have the right to appear in person before those judging them irrespective of their circumstances or the nature of the allegations.”

The GDC consultation into the format of hearings closes on 15 February 2024.

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