DDU helps dentist to successfully challenge ombudsman decision

The DDU successfully supported a member to challenge the outcome of a complaint.

A dentist who successfully challenged a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) decision to uphold a complaint received an apology and £500 when the Dental Defence Union (DDU) intervened and the decision was reviewed.

The original decision by the previous PHSO, was critical of the dentist's treatment of the patient, but the DDU asked for the decision to be reconsidered. The review took place under the current PHSO who admitted 'we think we got our original decision wrong' and found the complaint should not have been upheld. The PHSO offered the DDU member sincere apologies and £500 in recognition of the distress caused by the initial wrong decision.

The case is discussed in DDU parent company, the Medical Defence Union's annual report for 2018 which is published today.

John Makin, head of the DDU, said:

'We were very pleased to be able to support our member by persuading the PHSO to reconsider and overturn the decision taken by the previous PHSO. It's important that dental professionals are judged to a fair and consistent standard. If we feel a member has been treated unfairly by an investigating body as in this case, we will support them all the way if necessary to ensure they receive a fair outcome.

'As explained in our annual report, our dentally-qualified advisers provide advice and support to thousands of dental professionals each year. As a not for profit mutual defence organisation, our sole purpose is to support dental professionals and our only obligation is to our members.'

In other highlights from the MDU's annual report, it was revealed that during 2018:

  • Nearly 70% of dental claims were defended successfully and closed without payment of compensation.
  • Of 74 GDC cases where DDU solicitors assisted members with representations to case examiners (who decide if a case should be referred to a hearing), only 13 cases (18%) were referred on to a formal hearing.
  • There was an increase in demand from members for dento and medico-legal advice with almost 13,500 new case files and 30,000 telephone enquiries on the 24-hour advice line. Over 98% of calls in working hours (between 8am and 6pm) were answered by one of our specially trained dentists or doctors within 20 seconds.
  • Our membership department answered over 160,000 telephone calls, responded to over 95,000 letters and emails and dealt with almost 23,000 applications for membership. Eighty percent of phone calls were answered within twenty seconds and 98% of member correspondence was responded to within five working days.

MDU chief executive, Dr Christine Tomkins, explained:

'With dental professionals under unprecedented pressures in their jobs, we know how important it is that members are able to speak to a specially trained advisers whenever they need guidance or support.

'We never forget that the DDU exists for our members and our main function is to provide dento-legal services for them. Our aim is to be the best. When our members need us, whether it is because they have a difficult decision to make or face a dento-legal challenge, nothing less will do.'

This guidance was correct at publication 06/08/2019. 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.

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