Dental Protection currently handles approximately 2,000 calls a week from members. The majority of them are between 8.30 and 17.30 GMT when the systems in our three offices are designed for an effective response. A rota of dento-legal advisers and their secretaries have access to a variety of databases that support the needs of the membership during those hours. Occasionally an emergency will arise which needs support outside those hours and the dento-legal advisers on call are happy to assist just as you might assist a patient out of hours; particularly if an urgent situation has arisen concerning the safety of patients or staff.
Just like your patients, the perception of what constitutes an emergency varies from member to member. Here are some examples of what such emergencies might include:
- Serious untoward incident
This might be the death of a patient, or a serious medical event, such as a collapse associated with dental treatment. In such circumstances the police may become involved and members may be asked to provide a statement
- Unexpected visits from or contacts with the Police, Counter Fraud Service or the media
Unexpected raids on the practice by the police or an arrest involving allegations of criminal activity or, some kind of problem directly or indirectly associated with professional misconduct and/or the practice of dentistry are rare - but DPL can provide emergency advice about how to react to such an event. Once further details of the case emerge, decisions can be made about the level of ongoing assistance (if any) provided by DPL. Issues of personal conduct unrelated to the practice of dentistry would not normally fall within the scope of our assistance.
- Raising concerns about colleagues
Dental Protection appreciates that initially such discussions are more easily undertaken away from the practice, but without access to the database recording any previous contacts with an adviser including any earlier emergency advice, any ongoing support will necessarily be limited.
Whilst Dental Protection is committed to providing emergency advice out of hours, members are asked to discuss routine non-urgent administrative issues during office hours. It is also in the best interests of members to make calls for assistance or to follow up an emergency call when the office is open and the supporting databases are available between 8.30am and 5.30pm. The advisers answering calls will then be able to review the log of previous calls to understand the context of the ongoing issue and provide consistent advice.
The dento-legal advisers who provide the helpline service do not have access to our membership, cases or finance databases and may be taking your call while travelling. Our emergency advice helpline is not designed to deal with queries about payments, existing cases or membership categories. These enquiries should be made when the office is next open or by email via the Contact Us page on the website.
The Membership Department has extended office hours and can be contacted on 0845 718 7187 (lo-call number) between 8.00am and 18.30 GMT Monday to Friday.
Finally there is a matter of confidentiality. Seeking advice during office hours avoids the potential problems of conversations with an adviser being overheard during the commute home or in some other public environment. Discussing sensitive issues whilst travelling on busy public transport is hardly a recipe for success!