General Dental Council Focus On Patients’ Expectations And Entitlements

Dental Lawyers Welcome New Guidelines Following Rise In Complaints Against Dentists


Dental negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed the introduction of new standards for the industry brought into effect on 30 September which have been described as putting a stronger focus on patients’ expectations and entitlements.

The new standards, issued by the UK’s dental regulator the General Dental Council (GDC), were developed following intensive consultation with patients and the public.

 ‘Standards for the Dental Team’ will now replace the previous guidance ‘Standards for dental professionals’ and means that if a complaint is made about a dental professional, their behaviour/conduct will be measured against the standards and guidance in this document.

The new standards include nine key principles:
1. Put patients’ interests first;
2. Communicate effectively with patients;
3. Obtain valid consent;
4. Maintain and protect patients’ information;
5. Have a clear and effective complaints procedure;
6. Work with colleagues in a way that serves the interests of patients;
7. Maintain, develop and work within your professional knowledge and skills;
8. Raise concerns if patients are at risk;
9. Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patients’ confidence in you and the dental profession.
New issues addressed in the ‘Standards’ include:
• Principles on communication and personal behaviour; (Being fluent in written and spoken English);
• Greater emphasis on softer skills;
• New requirements to display indicative prices for treatment. (Price lists should be displayed in a reception or waiting area).

Jennifer Emerson, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in dental negligence claims, said: “The new standards follow a rise in complaints about dentists of more than 44% in 2012 compared with the year before. During this time 33 dentists had been struck of.
“These guidelines should now protect patients and give them a clearer understanding of the care they should be expecting. They also attempt to make pricing more transparent, for example by requiring that a price list is displayed in a reception or waiting area. We hope this openness will now ensure patients have all relevant information to hand before making a decision about a particular procedure

“We regularly secure justice for clients who have undergone treatment without being advised of the risks and long-term effects involved, which is why we were keen to see the process of consent improved to tackle this problem area.

“Whilst we welcome the new standards, we know from our work with clients that there is confusion amongst patients about how to make a complaint and concerns as to whether their complaint would be fully investigated and we hope to see more guidelines being implemented to tackle this and reassure patients that all complaints are taken seriously.”

If you have suffered as a result of dental negligence, our medical negligence lawyers could help you to claim compensation. See our Dental Negligence Claims page for more information.