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Principle One

Put patient's interests first


Principle Two

Communicate effectively with patients


Principle Three

Obtain valid consent


Principle Four

Maintain and protect patients' information


Principle Five

Have a clear and effective complaints procedure


Principle Six

Work with colleagues in a way that is in patients' best interests


Principle Seven

Maintain, develop and work within your professional knowledge and skills


Principle Eight

Raise concerns if patients are at risk


Principle Nine

Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patients' confidence in you and the dental profession


Principle One

Put patients' interests first


Learning Material Case Study

Personal beliefs

​The GDC received a complaint from the mother of a teenage patient.

She complained that during her son's appointment, the dentist said several things which she and her son found offensive, including: that men were superior to women; his views about the prevalence of homosexuality in particular cities; his views about dentists' wages in the UK; and that the British government had begged him to work in the UK. The patient's mother also alleged that the dentist had said "thank you for the filling" in a sarcastic tone, when they left the appointment.

The complaint was assessed by the GDC Fitness to Practise department and was thought to raise an allegation that the dentist's fitness to practise may be impaired. The matter was referred to the Investigating Committee.

The Investigating Committee thought that Mr Jones’ behaviour as described may amount to misconduct referred him to the Professional Conduct Committee.

The Professional Conduct Committee took the view that it was unacceptable for Mr Jones to use sarcastic language to a patient and that Mr Jones knew or should have known that his words were likely to cause offence to the patient. They confirmed that his comments were inappropriate and also found that they had been made in a raised tone which was unacceptable.

The Professional Conduct Committee found that Mr Jones had used words that he ought to have known were likely to cause distress, and that the tone in which he spoke to the patient was unacceptable.

The Committee decided to suspend his registration for a period of 12 months in order to protect the public and to send a clear message that the behaviour he exhibited was not acceptable and would not be tolerated in the dental profession.

The behaviour described in the patient’s initial complaint would breach the following Standards:

  • 1.2 You must treat every patient with dignity and respect at all times.
  • 1.2.1 You should be aware of how your tone of voice and body language might be perceived.
  • 1.3.2 You must make sure you do not bring the profession into disrepute.
  • 1.6.4 You must not express your personal beliefs (including political, religious or moral beliefs) to patients in any way that exploits their vulnerability or could cause them distress.

What you say and how you say it can call into question your fitness to practise

  • You must always speak to patients in a professional way.
  • Expressing your political, religious or moral beliefs to patients can cause them distress or offence, and give a patient reason to complain.
  • Communicating impolitely or using sarcasm can offend and distress - this can lead to a complaint.
  • Unprofessional conversation can call the reputation of the dental profession into disrepute.
  • Remember that the above applies in print and on social media.