The importance of cases like GDC and Pate

GDCMatthew Hill explains why the GDC and Pate case was so important to go to fitness to practise.

The determination in the recent case of GDC and Pate has been received with much controversy in some sections of the profession, particularly in some social media circles.

We are concerned by this reaction because the issues raised by the case go right to the heart of what it means to be a healthcare professional.

When someone becomes a healthcare professional they join a group of people in whom the public places its trust.

Joining that special group – in this case the dental profession – comes with both privileges and important obligations.

The privileges arise from the fact that no-one else can lawfully do the things that dentists do.

The obligations arise from the need to ensure that individual patients can benefit from safe, effective care delivered in circumstances of dignity and respect.

For the public – as a whole and as individual communities – it means they can confidently place their trust in the dental profession.

It is the job of regulation to ensure that the obligations are delivered in return for the privileges.

‘Demanded action’

This case was about serious violations of that relationship of trust.

The behaviours that were demonstrated call into question whether patients from a particular group could expect to be treated safely, and with dignity and respect.

They also call into question the confidence that entire communities might place in the dental profession as a whole.

These are red lines for regulation.

And so, in GDC and Pate the circumstances demanded action from the GDC.

Indeed, we know that many would immediately recognise the benefit to the whole profession when behaviours, which are so undermining of public confidence in the profession, which go so clearly against patient trust and respect, are called out clearly and decisively.

We know that some will disagree with this view.

However, that will not dilute our focus on patient safety and public confidence.

We will continue to take the necessary action to secure both in the interests of the public and the profession.

I believe the vast majority of dental professionals will need no reminder of these principles because they have embedded them as a necessary part of the critical service they provide.

To read the case determination in full, visit

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