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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 Two

Communicate effectively with patients


Patients expect:

  • To receive full, clear and accurate information that they can understand, before, during and after treatment, so that they can make informed decisions in partnership with the people providing their care
  • A clear explanation of the treatment, possible outcomes and what they can expect
  • To know how much their treatment will cost before it starts, and to be told about any changes
  • Communication that they can understand
  • To know the names of those providing their care

Standards & their guidance

  • 2.1.1 You must treat patients as individuals. You should take their specific communication needs and preferences into account where possible and respect any cultural values and differences.
  • 2.1.2 You must be sufficiently fluent in written and spoken English to communicate effectively with patients, their relatives, the dental team and other healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom.
  • 2.2.1 You must listen to patients and communicate effectively with them at a level they can understand. Before treatment starts you must:
    • explain the options (including those of delaying treatment or doing nothing) with the risks and benefits of each; and
    • give full information on the treatment you propose and the possible costs.
  • 2.2.2 You should encourage patients to ask questions about their options or any aspect of their treatment.
  • 2.2.3 You must give full and honest answers to any questions patients have about their options or treatment.
  • 2.3.1 You should introduce yourself to patients and explain your role so that they know how you will be involved in their care.
  • 2.3.2 Other members of your team may have valuable knowledge about the patients’ backgrounds or concerns so you should involve them (and the patients’ carers if relevant) in discussion with patients where appropriate.
  • 2.3.3 You should recognise patients’ communication difficulties and try to meet the patients’ particular communication needs by, for example:
    • not using professional jargon and acronyms;
    • using an interpreter for patients whose first language is not English;
    • suggesting that patients bring someone with them who can use sign language; and
    • providing an induction loop to help patients who wear hearing aids.
  • 2.3.4 You should satisfy yourself that patients have understood the information you have given them, for example by asking questions and summarising the main points of your discussion.
  • 2.3.5 You should make sure that patients have enough information and enough time to ask questions and make a decision.
  • 2.3.6 You must give patients a written treatment plan, or plans, before their treatment starts and you should retain a copy in their notes. You should also ask patients to sign the treatment plan.
  • 2.3.7 Whenever you provide a treatment plan you must include:
    • the proposed treatment;
    • a realistic indication of the cost;
    • whether the treatment is being provided under the NHS (or equivalent health service) or privately (if mixed, the treatment plan should clearly indicate which elements are being provided under which arrangement).
  • 2.3.8 You should keep the treatment plan and estimated costs under review during treatment. You must inform your patients immediately if the treatment plan changes and provide them with an updated version in writing.
  • 2.3.9 You must provide patients with clear information about your arrangements for emergency care including the out of hours arrangements.
  • 2.3.10 You should make sure patients have the details they need to allow them to contact you by their preferred method.
  • 2.3.11 You should provide patients with clear information about any referral arrangements related to their treatment.
  • 2.4.1 You must make sure that a simple price list is clearly displayed in your reception or waiting area. This should include a list of basic items including a consultation, a single-surface filling, an extraction, radiographs (bitewing or pan-oral) and treatment provided by the hygienist. For items which may vary in cost, a ‘from –- to’ price range can be shown.
  • 2.4.2 You must give clear information on prices in your practice literature and on your websites - patients should not have to ask for this information.
  • 2.4.3 You should tell your patients whether treatment is guaranteed, under what circumstances and for how long. You should make clear any circumstances under which treatment is not guaranteed (for example, a lack of care on their part which leads to recurring problems).

Learning Material & case studies

Case Studies for principle 2

Frequently Asked Questions