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New Standards focus on patients

New standards for the dental profession come into force today (Monday) which put a much stronger focus on patients’ expectations and entitlements

Issued by the General Dental Council (GDC), the standards were developed following intensive consultation with patients and the public.

‘Standards for the Dental Team’ replaces the previous guidance ‘Standards for dental professionals’.

If a complaint is made about a dental professional their behaviour/conduct will be measured against the standards and guidance in this document.

The 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).

GDC chief executive Evlynne Gilvarry said: ‘Patients have told us clearly what they expect when they seek dental treatment. The new standards reflect those expectations and guide the dental profession in meeting them.’

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.

Here, GDC chief executive Evlynne Gilvarry talks about the chanegs – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnXyyew4xoQ

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