Safeguarding; a must for every dental practice
DENTAL BULLETIN, ISSUE 26
Does your practice comply with the CQC’s ‘safeguarding’ requirements? Do you have policies in place and are your staff properly trained? If not, then now is the time to act.
On 22nd April 2015 the GDC announced that ‘safeguarding children and young people’ and ‘safeguarding vulnerable adults’ were to become part of the recommended CPD training for all dental professionals. In the same year, the CQC cited safeguarding as a key priority and as such every practice will need to evidence that they meet minimum safeguarding requirements in order to pass their inspection.
Child protection and safeguarding issues became headline news following a number of high profile cases of neglect and cruelty such as Victoria Climbié and Baby P. Social services failings in those cases highlighted the need for greater care and transparency when dealing with vulnerable people. Everyone agreed that lessons needed to be learnt from past mistakes and safeguarding is now a priority for everyone who deals with children and vulnerable adults.
Therefore failure to ensure compliance will have serious consequences for practices. As such, in this edition of our Dental Bulletin we look at what safeguarding means for dental practices and give some practical tips for complying with this duty.
Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on those who provide healthcare services to ensure that they consider the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when carrying out their functions. This therefore places a positive duty on all dental professionals who treat children to safeguard them.
In March 2015 the Department of Health published ‘a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children’ to help those who have a duty to safeguard children with their responsibilities. This guide recommends that all senior managers and professionals who deal with children should read the document and follow the guidance.
The guide states:
Effective safeguarding arrangements in every local area should be underpinned by two key principles:
- safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part; and
- a child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.
Dental neglect will be the main issue that dental professionals face. The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry defines dental neglect as:
‘…the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic oral health needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of a child’s oral or general health or development.’
However, the duty to safeguard children relates to any abuse and therefore dental professionals need to be live to all possible forms of maltreatment. The types of abuse that may occur are:
Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
Safeguarding vulnerable adults is similar to safeguarding children, in that the aim is to ensure vulnerable adults are also protected against maltreatment.
Vulnerable adults are those over 18 and who:
- Have a physical or sensory disability;
- Have a learning disability;
- Have mental health problems;
- Are older;
- Live in a care home.
What does this mean for your dental practice?
First, your practice should have policies in place for safeguarding children and young people and safeguarding vulnerable adults. These policies should contain:
- The types of potential abuse that can occur;
- How to recognise abuse;
- Who to report the abuse to;
- Record keeping; and
- What to do where there is serious physical injury or someone is in immediate danger.
Secondly, whilst it is already a CPD requirement for dental professionals to undertake training in safeguarding, now all members of staff from receptionist to senior management must also be trained. The practice as a whole needs to show the CQC that it takes the welfare of children and vulnerable adults seriously. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect these groups from harm.
Finally, recording and reporting incidents are imperative. Safeguarding should not be seen as a tick box exercise; focus on the outcomes needed to protect the vulnerable adult or child. Make sure your practice is open and honest so everyone feels able to report these issues.
If you need safeguarding polices drafted or reviewed to ensure they are up to date with current legislation or assistance with training staff on this issue, JFH Law can provide you with these services. Given these situations rarely arise is dental practices you may think you can leave this topic to one side. However, if you fail to get it right, this will result in inspections from the CQC, investigations from the GDC and could ultimately lead to bad publicity for your practice.
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Laura Pearce, Solicitor