Changes to the Dentists Act 1984 and the GDC Fitness to Practise Rules 2006 introduced a number of new powers to improve patient safety and ensure efficient, timely decision making. One of these powers includes the ability to have certain fitness to practise decisions reviewed.
The powers of review – Rule 9
Rule 9 of the Fitness to Practise Rules 2006 allows a person to request a review of certain decisions made by the registrar or the Case Examiners. These decisions are:
• A decision by the registrar not to refer a complaint to the Case Examiners, having decided that complaint does not amount to an allegation and closing the case.
• A decision by the Case Examiners/Investigating Committee that a case should not be referred to a Practice Committee (and closing the case with either advice, a warning or taking no further action).
As the Investigating Committee have all the powers of the Case Examiners, their decisions not to refer to a Practice Committee can also be reviewed.
Who can ask for a review?
A request for a review can be made by:
• The registrar
• The subject registrant
• The person who made the complaint or allegation
• Any other person who, in the opinion of the Registrar, has an interest in the decision to close the case
What happens next?
There are two stages to the process:
1. Initial review
The registrar will consider the application for a review and will only agree one should be carried out if:
• The determination to close the case may be flawed, either in whole or in part; or
• There is new information which may have led to a different decision; and
• A review is necessary to protect the public, prevent injustice to the registrant or it would be in the public interest to conduct a review.
If the registrar decides a review is necessary, the registrant, the maker of the application and any other person with an interest in the decision will be notified in writing and given an opportunity to make written representations.
2. Final review
Once all relevant information has been gathered, the Registrar will make a final decision, applying the following test:
• Was the decision for any reason, materially flawed in whole or in part; and/or
• Is there new information which probably would have led, wholly or partly, to a different determination; and
• A fresh determination is
- Necessary for the protection of the public; and/or
- Necessary to protect the interests of the registrant; and/or
- otherwise necessary in the public interest
If the review is of a decision not to refer a complaint to the Case Examiners then the registrar can either decide the original decision should stand or replace the decision with any other decision the registrar could have made, such as referring the complaint to the Case Examiners.
If the review is of a Case Examiner or Investigating Committee decision not to refer to a Practice Committee, the registrar will refer the case to the Case Examiners or Investigating Committee to consider afresh.
In all circumstances, the registrant, the maker of the application and any other person with an interest in the decision will be notified of the outcome.
How do I ask for a review?
A request for a review should be made in writing to the registrar, using the application form at the bottom of this page.
The registrar can only carry out a review, however, within two years of the date of the decision to close the case, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Typically, the registrar will decide whether or not a review should be carried out within two weeks of receiving an application. Any person requesting a review is advised to make the application as soon as possible and in any event within two years, taking account of the time the registrar will require to take the decision whether or not to conduct the review.
When requesting a review, the written request should address, as far as possible, why the grounds specified at “what happens next?” above are met. This will help the registrar make a decision as to whether or not a review should be carried out, and if so arrange for the review to take place, quickly and efficiently.