Legal podcast helps dentists facing ‘alarming’ complaints

Dental legal experts have launched an online podcast to help dental professionals facing complaints made about them to the General Dental Council (GDC).

The podcast is the brainwave of the Dental Defence Union (DDU) and comes at a time when the number of complaints about dental professionals considered by the GDC at their early stages has increased by 20%.

DDU dento-legal adviser Leo Briggs is interviewed for the podcast, which is available at the DDU website.

On it, he advises on what happens when a GDC letter arrives in the post saying that a complaint has been made – a scenario described on the podcast as: ‘one  of the most alarming pieces of correspondence you can receive as a dental professional’.

He says: ‘This is particularly timely because there was a 20% increase in the number of complaints about dental professionals considered by the GDC at stage 1 of the Fitness to Practise procedures in 2008, compared to the previous year.’

While only a handful of complaints will reach a Fitness to Practise panel, the DDU says it’s helpful for dental professionals in this position to have some understanding of the process and how they can give themselves the best chance, by seeking expert help from the outset from their dental defence organisation.

‘The good news is that 89% of complaints considered by the GDC Investigating Committee in 2008, in which the DDU in-house lawyers assisted members, didn’t proceed to a Fitness to Practise hearing,’ he adds.

The podcast also covers important DDU advice relevant to GDC complaints and investigations, including:
· Call the DDU advice line as soon as possible after receiving a letter from the GDC
· Acknowledge the GDC letter and send proof of indemnity promptly
· Seek DDU advice if you are invited to provide comment or answer criticisms during the investigation process
· A GDC investigation process may take many months but the DDU has an expert team of dento-legal advisers and lawyers to support and advise members throughout
· GDC cases are often reported in the local or national press. Do not be tempted to respond to questions from journalists about a GDC case. If you are approached, contact the DDU Press Office which specialises in advising members faced with media attention in these circumstances
To hear the podcast, click here.

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