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Lucy Bone Wins GDC Registration Appeal

Fitzgerald v. GDC, 10 July 2013 [Panel Chair: Rosemary Rollason]

Acting in a registration appeal, Lucy Bone was successful in persuading the GDC to admit onto the Special Needs Register a Dentist who was herself disabled. Mrs Fitzgerald applied on the ground that she had expertise equivalent to that which would be achieved by completing the CCST, being unable to study for the CCST by reason of her disability. Lucy argued that the Guidance Criteria were discriminatory and should not be applied:

  • the Guidance Criteria had an indirectly discriminatory effect on Mrs Fitzgerald as aspects of her condition made it harder for her to fulfil them;
  • the GDC was unable to show objective justification;
  • in particular, many of the criteria did not fulfil the objective of assessing equivalence;
  • the GDC had not considered the impact of the Equality Act 2010 or the Public Sector Equality Duty when formulating the Guidance Criteria.

The Appeal Panel declined to apply the Guidance Criteria and instead considered Ms Fitzgerald’s application afresh. Noting her “breadth of experience and contribution to Specialist Special Care Dentistry”, it was satisfied that she had achieved equivalence to the expertise to be gained from the CCST. The Panel directed that she therefore be allowed entry onto the Specialist List.

This decision highlights the need for disciplinary and regulatory bodies to understand the Equality Act 2010 and Public Sector Equality Duty. Specifically, this case underlines the importance of having due regard to the equality implications when considering whether or not a candidate has ‘equivalent expertise’ permitting entry to a specialist register. Lucy is an experienced discrimination practitioner and is able to advise regulatory bodies on the Equality Act 2010 and its potential applicability in the regulatory field. For details of forthcoming Disciplinary & Regulatory events in chambers, or to sign up for our regular bulletins, please contact Nigel McEwen.

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