The GDC has launched a new scheme to help support those dental professionals going through fitness to practise proceedings.
Dental professionals told the regulator, through an online feedback form, that stress was the main issue when dealing with the fitness to practise (FtP) process, so the General Dental Council (GDC) has partnered with Samaritans to train its staff to ensure they have the necessary skills to recognise where an individual may need additional support.
‘Over the course of the last year we’ve worked with Samaritans, the BDA Benevolent Fund, Dentists’ Health Support Programme and the Practitioner Health Programme,’ Jonathan Green, director of fitness to practise at the GDC, said.
‘We’ve understood what services and support they can offer and to who.
‘Then we collected all the information together in our web hub, a central page we’re going to be referring people to, which has gone live today.
‘It has got all the support these companies offer, telephone numbers, links to their websites, email address for important contacts.’
‘Maximum support possible’
Members of the FtP team at the GDC have also been trained on how to identify people who are more distressed.
The GDC believes this is all part of its work to put patient and public protection first, outlining the values it highlighted in its Patients, Professionals, Partners, Performance road map, which was launched at the start of 2016.
‘Every member of the fitness to practise team was sent on a half day training session with the Samaritans to identify key indicators to look out for to suggest somebody is more distressed than normal,’ Jonathan continued.
‘The Samaritans also helped us to produce a document that all staff members have.
‘This has got all the triggers that identify the warning signs in professionals who speak to us.
‘We now have an escalation service to make sure we can provide the maximum support possible.’
The GDC has set about improving its performance and efficiency after a damning PSA report into the dental regulator.
In order to reduce the stress in an FtP proceeding the GDC has promised to make changes including:
Being clear about what to expect when engaging with its fitness to practise procedures – we will be publishing new guides for dental professionals and patients this year
Ensuring we deliver the highest standard of customer care. We have developed a customer service charter that ensures our staff are clear about the standards of care our customers should expect
Signposting people who are interacting with fitness to practise procedures to support from expert organisations, if they require it. This commitment is set out in our three year road map, Patients, Professionals, Partners, Performance.
And the GDC is looking to make further improvements to help those professionals it regulates.
‘We’re talking to a number of key dental stakeholders about the possibility of offering a more nationwide network of support for dentists,’ Jonathan said.
‘We’re using Doctors for Doctors that the GMC provides as an example.
‘It offers face to face support right across the country where you can meet people locally.
‘It’s very early days but if we could provide similar support, “Dentists for Dentists”, that would be great.’
Readers can access the GDC’s web hub here.