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

 

Learning Material Scenario

Whistleblowing Whistleblowing

You are a dental nurse who works in a large practice. For the past three weeks you have been working with a dentist who was recently hired as a locum. The dentist is friendly but you have found his behaviour to be over-familiar, and on three occasions, he has shown you explicit videos on his phone and asked you to watch them with him. You have refused and have tried to laugh it off, but you now feel uncomfortable working with him and are not sure what to do. You know that his behaviour wasn't appropriate, but are worried about blowing the whistle - even though he is a locum dentist, he is essentially your boss.

What should you do?

​Yes, you can speak to the GDC about it.

The GDC may be able to provide advice about what to do next, and would be willing to look into your concern. The Standards for the Dental Team says that a dental professional's conduct, both at work and in their personal life, must justify patients' trust in them and the public's trust in the dental profession. The behaviour you have experienced may well undermine this standard, and we may think that the dentist's fitness to practise is impaired as a result.

Also, 8.1.1 of Standards for the Dental Team states that you must raise any concern that patients might be at risk due to the health, behaviour or professional performance of a colleague. This means that you in fact have a professional obligation to raise your concerns, in case the behaviour you are witnessing may in some way compromise patients.

We recommend that you speak to someone about this as soon as possible. You can speak with a more senior colleague, or your manager. You can speak with your professional association, defence organisation, or to the GDC.

See recommended course of action

​Yes, you could speak with your manager or with the practice principal.

The practice manager or principal will listen to your concerns and take action to address them. The Standards for the Dental Team says that a dental professional's conduct, both at work and in their personal life, must justify patients' trust in them and the public's trust in the dental profession. The behaviour you have experienced may well undermine this standard, and so your manager has a responsibility to consider your concerns.

Standard 8.3 states that registrants who employ, manage, or lead a team must make sure that there is an effective procedure in place for raising concerns, that the procedure is readily available to staff and that that it is followed at all times. The guidance under 8.3.2 goes on to say that managers should ensure that staff are encouraged to raise concerns, that staff are supported when they have raised a concern and that shortfalls in standards and performance of staff members need to be tackled.

8.3.3 goes on to state that the principal must take your concern seriously, maintain your confidentiality, investigate the matter properly and make an unbiased assessment of the concern. They must keep you advised of the progress and ensure that they monitor the action that they take to resolve the problem.

Whilst it is difficult, you need to remember that 8.1.1 of Standards for the Dental Team states that you must raise any concern that patients might be at risk due to the health, behaviour or professional performance of a colleague. This means that you have a professional obligation to raise your concern.

If you raise the concern and your concerns are either not taken seriously or ignored, then you should raise your concern with us.

If you do not wish to raise your concern to your manager or with the practice principal, you can speak to your professional association or to us.

What might happen next?

Your manager may decide the investigate the matter locally, and depending on the outcome, to refer the matter to the GDC. They may ask you if you are willing to put your name to a statement to the GDC. If not, they may be able to report the matter to the GDC anyway. The GDC takes allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues very seriously.

​We recognise that it can be very difficult to raise a concern about a colleague, particularly if you feel that they are in a more senior position than you in the practice.

However, it is really important that you speak up. Not speaking up means that you may continue having to work in an environment in which you feel uncomfortable. It may also mean that others will end up experiencing the same behaviour that you have.

Also, as a registered professional, you have an obligation to speak up about your concerns. 8.1.1 of Standards for the Dental Team states that you must raise any concern that patients might be at risk due to the health, behaviour or professional performance of a colleague. It also makes clear that you must raise a concern even if you are not in a position to control or influence your working environment and your duty to raise concerns overrides any personal and professional loyalties or concerns you might have.

There are organisations that can provide you with support such as Public Concern at Work. You can also speak to a colleague, your manager, your professional association or to the GDC.

See recommended course of action

​Raising a concern about the health, performance or conduct of a colleague is one of the most difficult situations that you may find yourself in but there are lots of sources of advice and support about this. The Standards we set for dental professionals who lead or manage a team place an obligation on them to take concerns seriously and to encourage people to raise concerns.

Public Concern at Work is an organisation that can provide you with support and should also seek advice from your professional association or your indemnity provider. You can also speak to the GDC.

Also, as a professional yourself, you have an obligation under the Standards to raise your concerns.