When a complaint is received by the GDC, they will write to you to inform you that a complaint has been received about you.  At this stage, it is important to remember that no decision has been taken in relation to the complaint and therefore you can continue to work as normal.

The letter, also known as a rule 4 letter, will set out the reasons why the GDC is looking into the concerns, and, most importantly, it is an opportunity for you to provide information about the complaint for further consideration by the GDC.

The Rule 4 process provides dental professionals with an opportunity to submit their comments in response to the concern that has been raised. The observations, if provided, are considered and included in the material used to determine whether the concern can be concluded by the case examiners or if it should be referred to a practice committee hearing.

The Rule 4 process currently allows 28 days for the dental professional to provide any observations to the allegations. Dental professionals subject to investigations do not have to provide observations, but it is strongly advised that you do and seek expert legal advice when considering your response.

This stage in the process is a crucial juncture in the process because case examiners will consider this information when deciding if there are grounds to close the complaint at this stage or refer the matter to a fitness to practise committee.

According to the GDC, around four in every ten (40%) concerns are closed with no further action at this stage.  There is evidence to show that legal representation results in much better outcomes for healthcare professionals facing fitness to practise proceedings.  The “rule 4 process” is a good example of where expert legal representation and advice can make a real difference because it offers an opportunity for dentists and other dental professionals to address and close fitness to practise proceedings at an early stage in the process.

Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.