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Frequently Asked Questions

About practising in Northern Ireland
  • Q
    Do I have to provide the HSC Board with anonymised copies of each complaint and my response?
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    02 September 2014

    Yes, following an amendment to the Health and Social Care (Reform) Act (NI) 2009, all providers of NHS services are required to provide the HSC Board with anonymised copies of each NHS complaint, and the practice response, within three days of the response being sent. This is for monitoring purposes. The Board should also be given quarterly reports containing details of the number of complaints received in that quarter.

  • Q
    If a private patient is unhappy with their treatment or some aspect of the service they receive, where else might they complain?
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    02 September 2014

    Normally complaints would be made through the in-house practice complaints procedure. It is important therefore that your patients know how to use the procedure. Private complaints may also be made to the Dental Complaints Service, an independent complaints service funded by the General Dental Council.

    Failure to co-operate with the DCS in the investigation of a complaint may be brought to the attention of the GDC. Complaints may also be made to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) for registered practices, the nature of which may lead to an investigation of your compliance with the regulations and minimum standards.

  • Q
    Has the HSC Board approach to assurance of NHS claims changed?
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    02 September 2014

    Yes. Guidance issued by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in November 2011 confirmed the replacement of the post-payment claim to record checks with probity outlier assessment checks. This will be based on quarterly reports from BSO probity which are then acted upon by HSCB dental advisers. Each quarter, 40 contractors will be either selected at random or targeted for a record card review. An initial sample of 10 record cards will then be requested for compliance with agreed standards. Full details of the process for targeted and random probity assurance can be found here

  • Q
    How long should I keep my records for?
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    02 September 2014

    Regulation 21 of the Independent Health Care Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 specifies the arrangements for the maintenance of patient records and other records specified in Schedule 3 of the regulations. The regulations also advise records should be kept up to date, available for inspection at all times and retained for a period of not less than 10 years from the date of the last entry. 

    Dentists registered with RQIA are required to keep clinical records for a minimum period of not less than 10 years. Following an amendment of the Health and Personal Social Services GDS (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008, all NHS treatment records should be retained for six years.

    Dental Protection recommends that all dental records are retained for 11 years. For more information, click here to read our guidance on record keeping in the UK.

  • Q
    Is there an NHS disciplinary process in Northern Ireland?
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    02 September 2014

    Dentists working under the GDS in Northern Ireland still work under the ‘old style’ contract where there is provision for the Health and Social Care Board to refer a matter for disciplinary investigation. Click here for further information.