How we investigate

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 complaint 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 Case Examiners.

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?"
 
A decision will be made about whether the case should be closed, or if it should be referred to the Case Examiners within four months from the date that a complaint is received. Should a case proceed to the Case Examiners, a decision will be made within six months from the date a complaint was received.
 
Stage 3 – Case Examiners
The Case Examiners consider the allegation(s), 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 Case Examiners then decide whether to refer the allegation to a Practice Committee for a full public inquiry or as an alternative to a referral, agree a set of undertakings with the registrant.
 
If the Case Examiners decide 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.
 
Interim Orders Committee (IOC) - At any stage during the investigation into the concerns received, the Registrar or Case Examiners may decide that is it is necessary to refer the dental professional to the IOC to consider whether to impose interim conditions or suspension until the inquiry has been held.
 
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's fitness to practise is impaired 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. The dental professional has the right of appeal.
  
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. Our solicitors will offer support and advice if this is required. Please refer to our witness advice pages.
 

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