Rules, regulations and managing risk
Risk recognition is an essential part of running a dental practice today. Over the last ten years there has been a steady increase in the monitoring of NHS dental services in England which has gone hand in hand with a rise in patient expectations of the dental care they receive.
As a result, it is essential that both dental practices and each individual dental practitioner have a firm understanding of the rules and regulations they must follow, and that they have a firm grasp of the risks involved in practising dentistry.
Risks for dental practices
Dental practices must register with, and comply with regulations set out by, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of its work, the CQC visits 10% of dental practices every year to ensure that they are maintaining standards within five key “lines of enquiry”:
- Are they safe?
- Are they effective?
- Are they caring?
- Are they responsive to people’s needs?
- Are they well-led?
NHS and mixed dental practices must also satisfy the requirements of NHS England (NHSE), as the commissioning body of primary and specialist dental services. Monitoring of services is through a number of standards – and where applicable targeted reports – including:
- The Dental Assurance Framework
- Vital Signs
- End-of-year datasets
In addition, practices need to be aware of the risks of litigation from dissatisfied patients and also any possible damage to their practice reputation and corporate image.
Risks for dental practitioners
NHSE can also instigate enquiries regarding the competence of an individual dental practitioner and their suitability to perform NHS services, and there are a number of sanctions at their disposal through the National Performers List regulations.
Then there is the General Dental Council (GDC), whose role it is to maintain the public’s confidence in the dental profession. Similarly, there are a number of measures that they can take if concerns are raised about an individual practitioner.
Mitigating the risks
Dental practices must have systems and processes in place to ensure risks are not only recognised but also mitigated to minimise any adverse impact on patients and staff. A Clinical and Quality Assurance Framework with a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will ensure this along with a support framework to address any KPI failures in a positive and constructive way.
At Dental Partners, we have a strong commitment to supporting our clinicians and working closely with clinical teams to provide a high standard of care to our patients. Our internal processes recognise and manage any identified risks with our very experienced Clinical Team.
In the words of Dental Partners’ CEO, Neil Lloyd, “Providing this essential expertise and support is a key part of our ethos and our ongoing commitment to being the Best Place to Work.”
Dr Ravi Rattan MFFLM LDS RCS (Eng) FRSPH PgDip in Dental Practice Management (Lon) is National Clinical Director at Dental Partners.
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