- The General Dental Council has updated its ‘Standards’ to help patients understand more easily what they can expect from their dental professional and how to complain.

- Patients, as consumers, should be checking that their dental professional is doing his/her best for them.

- These ‘Standards’ are being launched in a very different regulatory environment, post-Francis. There are now different expectations of dental professionals.

- Complaints to the GDC increased by 44% from 2011 to 2012 - with 33 dentists struck off in 2012.

The General Dental Council is today launching its new ‘Standards for the dental team’ to help patients gain a clearer understanding of the care they should be receiving from their dental professional. They outline the importance of a complaints procedure and what happens if the standards aren’t met. The standards contain nine principles and a dental professionals’ performance or behaviour will be measured against these if a complaint is made.

The number of complaints received by the GDC increased by 44% from 2011 to 2012, with 2,274 cases received in 2012, compared to 1,578 cases received in 2011. As of the end of Q2 2013, 1,441 complaints had been received. In addition 33 dental professionals were struck off the register last year.

The new guidelines, mapped out against the recent Francis Report into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, put a particular emphasis on the culture and values of the profession.
They were drafted off the back of research which showed that of the patients who have considered complaining about someone in the dental profession, almost 30% didn’t know where to start, more than a quarter didn’t know how to get the information they needed and a fifth didn’t believe their complaint would be investigated.

A key part of the new ‘Standards’ is clarity on costs. Recommendations about being much clearer on how much a course of treatment will cost were made clear in last year’s OFT report into the dental industry.

The ‘Standards’, last updated in 2005, have now been expanded to include the need to treat patients as individuals and without discrimination. There is a further focus on taking a holistic and preventative approach to patient care, which is appropriate to the individual patients.

Evlynne Gilvarry - CEO of the GDC who explains more in this video

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