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For many years, the whole team from hospital consultants down to house officers appear to have had some degree of immunity to complaints. Times have changed and dentists, like any other professional, are expected by patients and the Trust to be accountable for their acts and omissions, even although a patient's complaint or claim may be mainly directed towards the Trust or Health Board. Dental Protection’s team of advisers are very experienced in helping members deal with patient complaints both in primary and secondary care. We are able to advise on reports and responses made to employing Trusts in response to patient complaints, in an effort to achieve successful local resolution.
Clinical governance has an increasing role to play in hospital medicine and dentistry and from time to time Dental Protection is asked to assist members who are accused of under-performing. This can be a very worrying time for any member who may feel professionally isolated when they are the subject of an investigation by the Trust, National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) or the GDC and GMC. Our dento-legal advisers have considerable experience in dealing with such situations and can assist or represent a member either personally or, if necessary, with a member of our extensive legal team.
In the past we have successfully challenged Trusts and Health Boards over their reluctance to allow legal representation at a Trust disciplinary procedure, especially when the allegations are of a serious nature.
In cases like this, Dental Protection’s solicitors have instructed an experienced barrister to work with our solicitors, the dento-legal adviser and the consultant to prepare for the Inquest. The barrister would normally attend the Inquest and look after the interests of the consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon during the hearing, especially where the consultant’s care of the patient is likely to be subject to detailed investigation by the coroner and/or the deceased’s family.
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We can all learn from an unfortunate incident involving a member of the clinical team.
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