How we investigate allegations made against dental professionals
Our procedures are designed to protect patients and to be fair to all parties. We cannot order refunds or award compensation; only the courts can do that. If you are not sure whether you should contact us, find out more about who can help with complaints or about the standards of care we expect dental professionals to deliver.
The following diagram displays the four key stages of our process.
A more detailed version of the diagram below can be found in our How to Report publication.
Four stage complaints procedure
Stage 1 - Considering your complaint
We consider your complaints to see if we are the right organisation to deal with your concerns.
Stage 2 - Caseworkers
Our caseworkers consider your complaint to decide whether it should proceed to the next stage. If so, the matter is referred to the Investigating Committee (IC).
No decision is made at this stage about whether an allegation is true. The question we have to ask is, "Does this information appear to raise a question that needs to be looked into?"
Stage 3 – The Investigating Committee
The Investigating Committee (IC) considers the allegation, any comments from the dental professional, and any further comments from the person who made the allegation. All parties receive a complete copy of the paperwork (other than material containing sensitive health information). The Committee then decides whether to refer the allegation to a Practice Committee
for a full public inquiry.
If the IC decides there should be an inquiry they can, if necessary, refer the dental professional to the Interim Orders Committee
(IOC) to consider whether to impose conditions or interim suspend until the inquiry has been held. If the IC decides not to refer a dental professional to the Practice Committee, they can send them a letter of advice or warning, or take no further action.
Stage 4 – Practice Committees
The third stage is a full public inquiry before a Practice Committee:
These are public hearings where the Committee hears evidence and makes findings of fact. If any allegations are proved, the Committee then decides whether the registrant is unfit to practise and what action they should take. The Committee can take a number of steps. The most serious is to take the dental professional’s name off the Register. This means they are ’struck off’ and cannot practise. A dental professional has the right of appeal.
You may be needed as witness a at the hearing, which will mean giving formal evidence. Our solicitors will explain the process and will support you.
At each stage in our procedures, we will write to you to tell you what decision has been made about your concern. If you are not happy with the outcome, please let us know
. We will try to explain the reasons for the decision and tell you what you might be able to do about it.
Anybody that is involved in a fitness to practise case may be asked to be a witness. A witness may need to make a statement or appear at a hearing to give evidence. Please refer to our witness advice pages