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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


Patients expect:

  • To be listened to and have their preferences and concerns taken into account
  • To be treated as individuals and have their cultures and values respected
  • That all members of the dental team will be honest and act with integrity
  • That all aspects of their health and well-being will be considered and they will receive dental care that is appropriate for them
  • To be treated in a clean and safe environment
  • That reasonable adjustments will be made for any disabilities
  • That their interests will be put before financial gain and business need
  • Redress if they suffer harm during dental treatment
  • That their dental pain and anxiety will be managed appropriately

Standards & their guidance

  • 1.1.1 You must discuss treatment options with patients and listen carefully to what they say. Give them the opportunity to have a discussion and to ask questions.
  • 1.2.1 You should be aware of how your tone of voice and body language might be perceived.
  • 1.2.2 You should take patients’ preferences into account and be sensitive to their individual needs and values.
  • 1.2.3 You must treat patients with kindness and compassion.
  • 1.2.4 You should manage patients’ dental pain and anxiety appropriately.
  • 1.3.1 You must justify the trust that patients, the public and your colleagues place in you by always acting honestly and fairly in your dealings with them. This applies to any business or education activities in which you are involved as well as to your professional dealings.
  • 1.3.2 You must make sure you do not bring the profession into disrepute.
  • 1.3.3 You must make sure that any advertising, promotional material or other information that you produce is accurate and not misleading, and complies with the GDC’s guidance on ethical advertising
  • 1.4.1 A holistic approach means you must take account of patients’ overall health, their psychological and social needs, their long term oral health needs and their desired outcomes.
  • 1.4.2 You must provide patients with treatment that is in their best interests, providing appropriate oral health advice and following clinical guidelines relevant to their situation. You may need to balance their oral health needs with their desired outcomes. If their desired outcome is not achievable or is not in the best interests of their oral health, you must explain the risks, benefits and likely outcomes to help them to make a decision
  • 1.5.1 You must find out about the laws and regulations which apply to your clinical practice, your premises and your obligations as an employer and you must follow them at all times. This will include (but is not limited to) legislation relating to:
    • the disposal of clinical and other hazardous waste;
    • radiography;
    • health and safety;
    • decontamination; and
    • medical devices.
    (Further information on laws and regulations can be found on our website. Your professional association or defence organisation can also help you to find out which laws and regulations apply to your work.)
  • 1.5.2 You must make sure that you have all necessary vaccinations and follow guidance relating to blood-borne viruses.
  • 1.5.3 You must follow the guidance on medical emergencies and training updates issued by the Resuscitation Council (UK).
  • 1.5.4 You must record all patient safety incidents and report them promptly to the appropriate national body.
  • 1.6.1 You must not discriminate against patients on the grounds of:
    • Age
    • Disability
    • Gender reassignment
    • Marriage and civil partnership
    • Pregnancy and maternity
    • Race
    • Religion or belief
    • Sex
    • Sexual orientation.
    You must also ensure that you do not discriminate against patients or groups of patients for any other reasons such as nationality, special needs, health, lifestyle or any other consideration.
  • 1.6.2 You must be aware of and adhere to all your responsibilities as set out in relevant equalities legislation.
  • 1.6.3 You must consider patients’ disabilities and make reasonable adjustments to allow them to receive care which meets their needs. If you cannot make reasonable adjustments to treat a patient safely, you should consider referring them to a colleague.
  • 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.
  • 1.7.1 You must always put your patients’ interests before any financial, personal or other gain.
  • 1.7.2 If you work in a practice that provides both NHS (or equivalent health service) and private treatment (a mixed practice), you must make clear to your patients which treatments can be provided under the NHS (or equivalent health service) and which can only be provided on a private basis.
  • 1.7.3 You must not mislead patients into believing that treatments which are available on the NHS (or equivalent health service) can only be provided privately. If you work in a purely private practice, you should make sure that patients know this before they attend for treatment.
  • 1.7.4 If you work in a mixed practice, you must not pressurise patients into having private treatment if it is available to them under the NHS (or equivalent health service) and they would prefer to have it under the NHS (or equivalent health service).
  • 1.7.5 You must refuse any gifts, payment or hospitality if accepting them could affect, or could appear to affect, your professional judgment.
  • 1.7.6 When you are referring patients to another member of the dental team, you must make sure that the referral is made in the patients’ best interests rather than for your own, or another team member’s, financial gain or benefit.
  • 1.7.7 If you believe that patients might be at risk because of your health, behaviour or professional performance or that of a colleague, or because of any aspect of the clinical environment, you must take prompt and appropriate action.
  • 1.7.8 In rare circumstances, the trust between you and a patient may break down, and you may find it necessary to end the professional relationship. You should not stop providing a service to a patient solely because of a complaint the patient has made about you or your team. Before you end a professional relationship with a patient, you must be satisfied that your decision is fair and you must be able to justify your decision. You should write to the patient to tell them your decision and your reasons for it. You should take steps to ensure that arrangements are made promptly for the continuing care of the patient.
  • 1.8.1 You must have appropriate insurance or indemnity in place to make sure your patients can claim any compensation to which they may be entitled (See our website for further guidance on what types of insurance or indemnity the GDC considers to be appropriate).
  • 1.8.2 You should ensure that you keep to the terms and conditions of your insurance or indemnity and contact the provider as soon as possible when a claim is made. A delay in contacting the provider could disadvantage patients and may affect the level of help you receive from the provider
  • 1.9.1 You must find out about, and follow, laws and regulations affecting your work. This includes, but is not limited to, those relating to:
    • data protection
    • employment
    • human rights and equality
    • registration with other regulatory bodies.

Learning Material & case studies