Big Regulator is Watching You

Big Regulator is Watching You

The issue of The GDC’s interest in its registrant’s lives outside of the surgery, and away from patient interactions is not new. A recent Subject Access Request (SAR) has shown that the GDC continue to take an interest in issues that have little if anything to do with protecting the public or maintaining confidence in the profession.

Despite assurances regarding social media it is clear the GDC still actively trawl online sources for comments about them. This includes GDPUK news blogs and public comments, as shown by the recent SAR. This reach does not extend to the forum which has dental colleagues only as members.

The GDC admitted in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Leeds dentist Dominic O’Hooley that they had paid Gorkana group to view and report on items including registrant’s social media. The GDC claim that the contract ended in May 2021 and has not been replaced. Social Media monitoring via third party service - a Freedom of Information request to General Dental Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

Irrespective, readers should be aware that the GDC is still taking a very active interest in registrants’ online activity.

A year later, in 2022 GDPUK published a story by Chris Tapper entitled "Preventing Harm" – The GDC Maintains Its ’Protective’ Position.” This covered the GDC’s delayed about-turn over the issue of overseas dental applicants to the register who failed the GDC’s exam, but were then registered to practice as therapists. The gist of this was that the GDC had allowed the loophole to come into being, denied it’s relevance, belatedly accepted that it might be closed, and then even as it consulted on this, maintained that its assessment processes were “robust.”

To provide balance, the story quoted the GDC position and had a link to the GDC annual report. At no point have the GDC contacted GDPUK to dispute or correct any of the content of this story, indeed subsequent events would confirm that it was accurate and honest.

All GDPUK stories have an option for comments. This is little used, indeed most archived stories have no comments. There is though a single comment after the story “"Preventing Harm" – The GDC Maintains Its ’Protective’ Position.” It simply says, “Same old GDC, same old levels of candour.”

The GDPUK member who made that comment recently had cause to make an SAR to the GDC. The response was long overdue and incomplete. To the recipient’s surprise the GDC’s response included an internal email between two senior figures in the engagement department.

Internal email

The link includes, and refers to, both the story and comment made. This took place a year after the GDC ended its contract with Gorkana.

Within other parts of the SAR the same comment is referred to as part of the GDC’s communications and engagement department’s justification for refusing to discuss what measures the GDC was taking to support and protect registrant mental health during Fitness to Practice proceedings. This enquiry had been put to the GDC following their refusal to answer an FOI about numbers of dentists taking their own life during FTP. As readers will know the GDC has moved from

1) declining on confidentiality grounds to

2) declining on cost grounds to

3) agreeing to provide data for a reduced period by the end of June 2023, to

4) the current position as of May 30th of a postponement with no planned publication date.

Readers may also recall a recent case where GDC FTP proceedings were instituted on a dentist for having a conversation in which they warned a colleague that, “We need to be careful what we put on notes” and that photos “could be used as evidence against clinicians.” Amongst the charges was dishonesty, which if found by the panel often leads to erasure.

While listed for a full hearing it did not in the end take place, after already costing a great deal in time and stress for the registrant involved. The GDC remove such listings form their website very quickly. However it can be seen here, below.

Every registrant is taught that the GDC’s role is to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. Some may still be surprised to discover that all too often the GDC is more concerned with protecting itself and its own reputation, particularly from registrants who have the temerity to question its behaviour.

charge sheet R young as of 30 06 2023


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