Disclosure and Publication Policy anomalies

Victoria Holden made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to General Dental Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear General Dental Council,

In the GDC's Disclosure and Publication Policy it states at paragraphs:

10: we do not normally identify witnesses by name in FtP processes;

18: names of patients and witnesses (except expert/professional witnesses) are anonymised.

Whilst this is perhaps slightly contradictory, please can you provide explanations as to why therefore:

1. The names of the Informant and Witness are given in the recent Pate decision?
Additionally, I should like to know who decided that in this case, the 'not normally' exception would be used and what was the reasoning for this?

2. The name of expert witness Stephen Layton was not given in the recent 'no case to answer' hearing as this seems to be in direct contrast to the policy. In a previous FOI where you gave the name of this expert you advised me that there was no legal basis to name the expert witness, but in view of the Disclosure and Publication policy that does seem to be irrelevant in view of what the policy actually says.

Additionally, can you please confirm whether as a result of Mr Layton's criticism by Mr Brassington in this hearing the GDC will continue to instruct this expert for any future cases.
Finally, can you please confirm if Mr Layton remains instructed on any currently running cases for the GDC.

Many thanks.

Yours faithfully,

Victoria Holden

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

Thank you for your message, which has been received by the Freedom of
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Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

Dear Ms Holden

Thank you for your request for information below..

Your request was received on 28 July 2018 and has been allocated to the GDC’s information governance team. team to provide a response. We are dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the FOI Act’).

The GDC will process your request promptly, however, please note the FOI Act allows public authorities (the GDC) up to 20 working days to provide a response – the statutory deadline is therefore 28 August 2018.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Grace perry

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Val Shepherd, General Dental Council

Dear Ms Holden, I am replying to your request sent to the GDC on  28 July
2018 in which you ask:

 

Dear General Dental Council,

In the GDC's Disclosure and Publication Policy it states at paragraphs:

10: we do not normally identify witnesses by name in FtP processes;

18: names of patients and witnesses (except expert/professional witnesses)
are anonymised.

Whilst this is perhaps slightly contradictory, please can you provide
explanations as to why therefore:

1. The names of the Informant and Witness are given in the recent Pate
decision?

Additionally, I should like to know who decided that in this case, the
'not normally' exception would be used and what was the reasoning for
this?

2. The name of expert witness Stephen Layton was not given in the recent
'no case to answer' hearing as this seems to be in direct contrast to the
policy.   In a previous FOI where you gave the name of this expert you
advised me that there was no legal basis to name the expert witness, but
in view of the Disclosure and Publication policy that does seem to be
irrelevant in view of what the policy actually says.

Additionally, can you please confirm whether as a result of Mr Layton's
criticism by Mr Brassington in this hearing the GDC will continue to
instruct this expert for any future cases.

Finally, can you please confirm if Mr Layton remains instructed on any
currently running cases for the GDC.

 

In answer to your question 1)  about quoting the names of the two dentists
who were informant and witness, the decision to publish their names was
taken by the Committee. As dental professionals (and professional
witnesses) and not directly involved in the allegations (as would have
been the case with a patient) the panel felt they did not fall to be
anonymised in accordance with paragraph 18 of our Disclosure and
Publication Policy, which further explains the exception to our approach
in paragraph 10 of that Policy that witnesses who are patients, or are not
classed as expert or professional witnesses, are not named.

In answer to the questions under 2) we are unable to confirm whether the
GDC will continue to instruct the expert you refer to in your request in
future cases (or whether he remains instructed for the GDC on any
currently running cases), as we consider that that information is personal
information (as defined in the Data Protection Act 2018) and the exemption
under section 40(2) and 40(3A)(a) of the FOI Act applies to it. Section
40(2) provides an exemption from disclosure for information which is the
personal data of any individual, aside from the requester, and where
disclosure of that personal information would be in breach of any of the
data protection principles. In our view, the information you have
requested is third party personal information and to disclose it to you,
or any other member of the public, would breach the first data protection
principle (or Article 5.1(a) of the General Data Protection Regulation),
which requires that personal data is processed ‘fairly’ and ‘lawfully’. 
It would be unfair i.e. not within the expectation of the individuals on
the list of clinical experts and clinical advisers the GDC maintains, to
comment to the public on which of our experts or advisers will, or will
not, be instructed by the GDC on any particular fitness to practise case,
or in general, since any such comment would be likely to give rise to
negative speculation about that expert/adviser, which would be likely to
damage that individual’s professional reputation.  As you are aware,
disclosure of information under the FOI Act results in that information
being put in the public domain i.e. published to the world.

 

Internal review and complaints procedure

I hope you have found the information provided helpful. However, if you
are dissatisfied with our response or how your request has been handled
you can ask that an internal review be carried out:

Requests for review should be addressed to:

Principal Legal Adviser

General Dental Council

37 Wimpole Street

London

W1G 8DQ

Email: [1][General Dental Council request email]

 

If, at the end of the review process, you are not satisfied with the
response that you receive, you may write to the Information Commissioner,
who is appointed to consider such complaints, at:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Tel: 0303 123 1113

Website: [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Kind regards,

 

Val Shepherd

Senior Hearings Manager

General Dental Council

If you have received this email in error please read on:

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Registered office: General Dental Council, 37 Wimpole St, London, W1G 8DQ.

References

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