All members of the dental team have an ethical duty to put patients' interests first.
Whether or not to raise concerns about a colleague may be a difficult decision to make, particularly if it involves, or may be taken as, criticism of a senior colleague or employer. You might, however, need to raise concerns if, for example, you are anxious that patients may be at risk because of:
- the health, behaviour or professional performance of an employer or colleague
- any aspect of the clinical environment, such as infection control
- something you have been asked to do that you believe conflicts with your duty to put patients' interests first.
If you do not raise your concerns, something could go wrong. Any subsequent investigation may reveal that others in the team could or should have known about the issue and this could lead to a GDC referral and fitness to practise investigation which may jeopardise your own registration.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 offers protection for those who honestly raise concerns about wrong doing or malpractice in the workplace.
The GDC has included a new standard in its guidance Standards for the Dental Team (2013) under principle 8 which states 'You must act promptly if patients or colleagues are at risk and take measures to protect them' (paragraph 8.2).
It goes on to say in paragraph 8.2.3 'Where possible, you should raise concerns first with your employer or manager. However, it may not always be appropriate or possible to raise concerns with them, particularly if they are the source of your concern.'
- Raise your concerns locally at first, using the established practice procedure.
- Put your concerns in writing and request written confirmation of it.
- Keep a record of your concerns and any steps you have taken to resolve them. Your employer should keep you informed of how they propose to deal with the matter and the timeframe for their response.
- When reporting your concern, request that your name is not disclosed during any investigation. It is not usually advisable to report concerns anonymously as this may hamper any investigation and may even mean the complaint is not taken seriously.
- Contact your dental defence organisation for individual advice if you think you may have to raise concerns.
This guidance was correct at publication . It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.