General Dental Council - Principles of Raising Concerns

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The General Dental Council (GDC) is reminding registrants that there is guidance available if they have concerns about another health professional’s fitness to practise.

The GDC standards guidance, ‘Standards for dental professionals’, explains:

“If you believe that patients might be at risk because of your health, behaviour or professional performance, or that of a colleague, or because of any aspect of the clinical environment, you should take action”.

Its ‘Principles of Raising Concerns’ booklet aims to assist dental professionals in raising any concerns they may have that patents might be at risk and to advise on the support available in doing so.

It also reminds dental professionals that raising a concern is different from making a complaint. When someone makes a complaint, they may be expected to prove their case. When someone raises a concern, they should not be expected to prove the malpractice they are concerned about.

Key points to take from the ‘Principles of Raising Concerns’ include:

  • Taking immediate or prompt action;
  • Ensuring to protect patient confidentiality;
  • Keeping an accurate record of concerns and actions taken.

Dental professionals should note that their duty to raise any concerns overrides any personal and professional loyalty. This responsibility is not affected by being in a position to control or influence the practice or business.

It is encouraged to raise concerns locally first, but to contact the GDC if this is not feasible, or if the concern has already been raised locally and nothing has been done about it. If the problem is so severe that the GDC clearly needs to be involved (for example, issues of indecency, violence or dishonesty, serious crime or illegal practice) then the concern should be referred.

Furthermore, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) gives protection to employees who raise genuine concerns about potentially illegal or dangerous practices in the workplace. PIDA applies to all employed dental professionals working within the NHS or the private sector, and to self-employed dental professionals contracted to provide NHS services. Employees and contractors do not have to prove their concerns, as long as they are made in good faith.

It is important to remember that all dental professionals have a duty to put patients’ interests first and act to protect them.  Failing to do so by not raising a concern could place registration with the GDC at risk. If in doubt, dental professionals should always raise the concern with the GDC.
The ‘Principles of Raising Concerns’ booklet can be downloaded from the GDC’s website.