A dental professional who faced a very stressful complaint, made to NHS England by a colleague, has shared how the Dental Defence Union (DDU) supported her during the subsequent investigation.
In the latest edition of the DDU journal, the member describes the impact the experience, which lasted for a number of years, had on both her physical and mental health and the practical support and advice provided by the DDU alongside the British Dental Association.
The member explained, “The adviser's help was invaluable. It was key to have another pair of eyes [throughout the process] because I think my anger and frustration were probably coming through. This was the first time I had needed the DDU for anything more than dento-legal advice since I joined in my final year at dental school and I had really fantastic support.
“In many ways I was lucky. If this had to happen, at least I was at a point in my career when I had gained enough knowledge and experience to get out of a hole and I could call on the DDU. But imagine you don't have access to that expertise? Where would you be?”
Unfortunately, the number of cases raised by fellow registrants, so-called ‘blue-on-blue’ complaints, made up nine per cent of all concerns received by the GDC in 2021. To try to avoid the risk of personal, financial or business matters spilling over, the DDU’s advice is to have robust and equitable arrangements, such as associate and partnership agreements, in place from the outset. Where disagreements do arise it is important for the parties to keep communication channels open with a view to matters being resolved proportionately and professionally.
Leo Briggs, deputy head of the DDU said, “Despite the positive outcome for our member, it cannot be overlooked that the complaint and subsequent investigation took more than two years to reach a conclusion, and this was undoubtedly stressful for the member.
“At the DDU, we guide, support and defend members, and as part of that, we act in their best interests and safeguard their professional reputations. We put our members at the heart of decisions about how their case is managed.”