We carried out an investigation following concerns raised by the former chair of the General Dental Council in 2013.
On 3 June 2011 the Department of Health asked the Professional Standards Authority (then CHRE) to advise whether:
- Concerns which had been raised by the former Chair of the GDC, Alison Lockyer, about the organisation’s governance indicated that the GDC may have been failing to fulfil its statutory functions, or
- There are concerns about the actions of individuals on the Council which ought to be drawn to the attention of the Appointments Commission
In the same letter the Department asked us to pay particular attention to the GDC’s performance in respect of its fitness to practise function.
The Department of Health’s request followed concerns raised by Alison Lockyer in a letter she sent to the Secretary of State on 5 May 2011 upon her resignation from the GDC.
On 28 July 2011 the Department of Health provided us with a summary of the concerns that had been raised by Alison Lockyer in her letter to the Secretary of State (while waiting for her permission to disclose a copy of that letter to us). We received further details about Alison Lockyer’s concerns in a letter from her on 2 September 2011. Following receipt of that information, we were able to commence our investigation. We subsequently met with Alison Lockyer on 16 September 2011 to discuss her concerns in more detail and during the course of that meeting we were given a copy of the letter Alison Lockyer had sent to the Secretary of State setting out her concerns.
How we carried out the investigation
The first stage of our investigation involved obtaining written information from Alison Lockyer about the allegations that she had raised with the Secretary of State (we wrote to her on 28 June 2011 and we received a substantive response on 2 September 2011), reviewing the documentation considered by the Council and the Audit Committee in relation to the two matters raised about Alison Lockyer, and then meeting with Alison Lockyer on 16 September to understand in greater detail the written information that she had provided to us on 2 September 2011. This process provided us with a clear understanding of the allegations made by Alison Lockyer and the basic process followed by the GDC to consider the matters raised about Alison Lockyer. With this as our basis we then identified other individuals that we wished to speak with/meet and the documentary evidence we wished to review. We have also responded, where appropriate, to certain suggestions made to us by relevant individuals as to what further information might be relevant/which other witnesses we may want to speak to in order to understand the relevant events.
This report has taken account of all the information provided by those we contacted (details of this are outlined below) and it has also been revised following circulation of draft versions to key stakeholders for comments on three occasions.