Coroner Demands GDC Action After Registrant Suicide

Coroner Demands GDC Action After Registrant Suicide

With each week more similarities emerge between the shocking behaviour of the Post Office towards its sub postmasters, and the shocking behaviour of the GDC towards its registrants. A Coroner who has investigated the death of a dentist, has now produced a report that in any organisation with a shred of decency, should have resulted in the immediate investigation and suspension of personnel.

We know that apart from lives ruined by bankruptcy, criminal records, and mental health issues, a number of sub post masters were pushed over the edge and took their life as a result of the Post Office’s incompetence and dishonesty. The GDC has left, and continues to leave, a similar trail of human misery in its wake.

Katrina Hepburn, HM Central and South East Kent Coroner, began to investigate the death by suicide of a dentist in late 2023. As a result, she has taken the step of writing a ‘Report to prevent future deaths.’  In bold type it states that ‘This report is being sent to The General Dental Council’

The background is that a Fitness to Practice investigation had been started by the GDC. The dentist’s case was referred to the Interim Orders Committee (IOC) by the GDC Registrar. As a result of an initial hearing she/he had interim conditions placed upon her/his practice. That this was for 18 months would have been a huge blow. It must be borne in mind that: “It is not the role of the IOC to make findings of fact in relation to any charge.” In lay terms it is simply a question of whether the allegations are serious enough that were they found proved that individual would present a risk to the public. In the meantime, while the GDC meanders through it’s processes, lives are on hold.

Even worse, the IOC hearing report posted on the GDC’s hearings website, ran to seven pages of highly detailed yet unproven, allegations. Allegations that the registrant denied. At his inquest he was described as an extremely private individual” and the knowledge that such material was in the public domain, had a “tremendous” impact on his mental health.

Commenting on the practice of posting detailed allegations in this way the coroner wrote that, “Consequently, in my view, there exists a risk that future deaths will occur.”

The report concludes: “In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you, the General Dental Council, have the power to take such action.”

The GDC were under a duty to respond to the Coroner’s report by October 11th 2023. It does not appear that the GDC have commented publicly either about receiving this report, or their response. With hindsight, the timing of the coroners notice, issued in late August 2023, may explain various recent senior staff changes at the GDC.

If the workings and publication of IOC hearings are little changed, then if or rather when, the next registrant commits suicide in similar circumstances, there will be clear culpability by the GDC.

Do we have to wait for Gwyneth Hughes, who wrote Mr Bates and the Post Office, to dramatise the GDC’s history of failure before anything changes?



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