Bad News Buried - GDC Style

Bad News Buried - GDC Style

The head of one of the largest dental indemnifiers is also a member of the Magic Circle. Not to be left out, the GDC have also been using their own skills to make things disappear. Some particularly good examples of their sleight of hand can be found on the GDC website.

In the easily found “latest news” section is a story headlined “General Dental Council publishes Registration and Fitness to Practise statistical reports.” Given the GDC’s persistent failure to meet its own regulator, The Professional Standards Authority, standards for FtP, this is of major interest to registrants. As reported in GDPUK there are many unanswered questions about the effect of FtP on registrant’s mental health. It appears that there have been terrible consequences including suicides, over a number of years, with serious but unanswered questions about the GDC’s lack of care, competence and humanity.

Nothing about this is featured in the GDC’s news story. Instead the story chooses to focus on information about numbers of registrants, numbers of FtP cases and that there were 18 dental professionals erased from the registers in 2022, following a Practice Committee hearing, compared to 17 in 2021. Which is still an improvement on 2020’s 25 erasures. Concerned about its EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) performance, John Cullinane, Executive Director, Fitness to Practice, asked readers not to use the EDI data in its reports in isolation, asserting that many other factors are relevant. 

Quite rightly, the GDC are very uneasy about the concern that overseas graduates and minority registrants might be more likely to experience the FtP process, and more likely to receive a severe sanction. To get to the actual figures requires two links, the first to a colourfully illustrated page mainly devoted to covering numbers of reported concerns and how they progressed thorough the stages of the FtP process. The second link goes to the annual report, a 90 plus page document which contains a section on FtP along with others including finances, staff remuneration, and registration performance. Annual Report and Accounts 2022 (

The Annual Report carries an expanded version of the information in the first link and the sentence, “Further details of our performance can be found in the Fitness to Practise statistical report, published separately.”  

Registrants with time on their hands who search long enough, will finally find the FTP Statistical Report. Fitness to Practise Statistical Report 2021 (  There are 14 pages of EDI analysis. To quote the GDC document, “Dentists of an Asian / Asian British ethnicity account for 28% of the register but 32% of FtP concerns raised to the GDC. Dentists with a White ethnicity account for half of the register but only 41% of the concerns raised to the GDC.” The GDC do point out that nearly 90% of FtP cases are generated outside of the GDC and the proportion of cases progressed throughout the FtP system, when measured by ethnic group, remain consistent at each point of the system. It appears from the tables provided that there are variations amongst racial groups, in the likelihood of being involved in FTP proceedings, and as a result the stage at which the case is closed, and its outcome.

With over 110,000 registrants, neither the annual report nor FtP sections contain any reference to registrant mental health and well being. This might have been expected a decade or more ago, but the GDC manage to write at some length about equality and sustainability, as well as their business plan and their own pension arrangements. 

In the meantime the GDC continue to parry Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and press enquiries about registrant mental health. A former dentist’s FOI from January 2023 asked if the General Dental Council had commenced its research project into the prevalence of dental registrants taking their own lives during Fitness to Practise investigations. As he explained at the time, “The GDC’s previous response - passing on my request to the GDC press department - which merely gave a link to a two-month old article on its website, was both dismissive and entirely inappropriate.”

The GDC did not reply within the required 28 days, but after a further FOI finally responded: “In response to your FOI request, we began scoping the work we describe above in December 2022.” This was followed with, “I hope you have found our response helpful.” At the time of writing, six months after GDC Executive Director, Stefan Czerniawski’s initial announcement, no further information has been made available by the GDC

The GDC’s grand illusion is that it is a modern and transparent regulator protecting the public. Looking beyond the distractions of its report reveals an organisation that can include two paragraphs and a table of statistics to tell the world about its carbon footprint, but refuses to acknowledge the trail of tears for which it is responsible. 

Image Credit CC license

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