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Rule 4 observations - pilot

During 2020 we piloted changes to the Rule 4 stage of the fitness to practise process. This nine-month pilot ended on 30 October, and along with it the limited changes made to the Rule 4 stage.

The pilot was introduced following a public consultation and provided, in certain cases, more time for dental professionals to prepare and submit observations at the Rule 4 stage of the fitness to practise process. Dental professionals do not have to submit observations, but most do. Also being trialled was the early disclosure of any clinical assessment sought in advance of an investigation.

Sympathetic to time pressures, the aim was to give further time for the preparation of detailed representations that take into account clinical assessments, helping to ensure case examiners are fully informed of all relevant facts, as early as possible in the process.

An evaluation of the pilot is now being undertaken to consider what difference the changes have made, including any impact on the timeliness of case disposals. The views of indemnifiers, case examiners and casework managers will also be sought for the evaluation. Recommendations on any permanent changes to the Rule 4 stage process are due in early 2021.

Please note, that even though the pilot has ended, dental professionals can still apply for an extension to the Rule 4 time limits under the existing arrangements. However, the early disclosure of the clinical advice report will not be available following the end of the pilot.

For further information please speak to your indemnifier or get in touch with us.