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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 Eight

Raise concerns if patients are at risk


Patients expect:

  • That the dental team will act promptly to protect their safety if there are concerns about the health, performance or behaviour of a dental professional or the environment where treatment is provided
  • That a dental professional will raise any concerns about the welfare of vulnerable patients

Standards & their guidance

  • 8.1.1 You must raise any concern that patients might be at risk due to:
    • the health, behaviour or professional performance of a colleague;
    • any aspect of the environment where treatment is provided; or
    • someone asking you to do something that you think conflicts with your duties to put patients interests first and act to protect them.
    You must raise a concern even if you are not in a position to control or influence your working environment. Your duty to raise concerns overrides any personal and professional loyalties or concerns you might have (for example, seeming disloyal or being treated differently by your colleagues or managers).
  • 8.1.2 You must not enter into any contract or agreement with your employer or contracting body which contains a ‘gagging clause’ that would prevent you from raising concerns about patient safety or restrict what you could say when raising a concern
  • 8.2.1 You must act on concerns promptly. Acting quickly may mean that poor practice is identified and tackled without there being a serious risk to patient safety. If you are not sure whether the issue that worries you amounts to a concern that you should raise, think about what might happen in the short or longer term if you did not mention the issue. If in doubt, you must raise your concern.
  • 8.2.2 You should not have to prove your concern for it to be investigated. If the investigation shows that there was no problem, the fact that you raised the concern should not be held against you as long as you were justified in raising the concern. Remember that you must put patients’ interests first and act to protect them. If you fail to do so by not raising a concern, your own registration could be at risk.
  • 8.2.3 Where possible, you should raise concerns first with your employer or manager. However it may not always be appropriate or possible to raise concerns with them, particularly if they are the source of your concern.
  • 8.2.4 If it is not appropriate to raise your concern with your employer or manager, or if they fail to act on your concern, you must raise your concerns with your local commissioner of health or with the appropriate body from the following:
    • the Care Quality Commission
    • Health Inspectorate of Wales
    • The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority
    • Healthcare Improvement Scotland
    You can also get advice from your defence organisation or professional association.
  • 8.2.5 If you think that the public and patients need to be protected from a dental professional registered with the GDC, you must refer your concern to us. This may be appropriate when:
    • taking action at a local level is not practical; or
    • action at a local level has failed; or
    • the problem is so severe that the GDC clearly needs to be involved (for example, issues of indecency, violence, dishonesty, serious crime or illegal practice); or
    • there is a genuine fear of victimisation or deliberate concealment; or
    • you believe a registrant may not be fit to practise because of his or her health, performance or conduct.
  • 8.2.6 You must refer concerns about other healthcare professionals to the relevant regulator.
  • 8.3.1 You must promote a culture of openness in the workplace so that staff feel able to raise concerns.
  • 8.3.2 You should embed this culture into your policies and procedures, beginning with staff training and induction.
  • 8.3.3 You should encourage all staff, including temporary staff, staff on different sites and locums, to raise concerns about the safety of patients, including the risks that may be posed by colleagues, premises, equipment or practice policies.
  • 8.3.4 You must not offer staff contracts which contain a ‘gagging clause’ that would prevent them from raising concerns about patient safety or restrict what they could say when raising a concern.
  • 8.4.1 You must make sure there are written procedures in place to enable staff members to raise concerns. This means:
    • being aware of and adhering to current laws and regulations;
    • supporting staff members who raise concerns;
    • taking steps to tackle any shortfalls in the standards and performance of staff; and;
    • having systems in place for supporting staff who may be having problems with their health, behaviour or professional performance;
  • 8.4.2 When a member of your team has raised a concern, you must:
    • take the concerns seriously;
    • maintain confidentiality when appropriate;
    • investigate promptly and properly and make an unbiased assessment of the concern;
    • keep the staff member who raised the concern advised of progress, explaining any action taken or reasons for not taking action; and
    • ensure that you monitor the action you take to solve the problem.
  • 8.5.1 You must raise any concerns you may have about the possible abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults. You must know who to contact for further advice and how to refer concerns to an appropriate authority such as your local social services department.
  • 8.5.2 You must find out about local procedures for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. You must follow these procedures if you suspect that a child or vulnerable adult might be at risk because of abuse or neglect. See our website for further information.

Learning Material & case studies