Raising concerns about the performance of a colleague
All of us at one time or another have concerns about what is happening at work. Usually these concerns are easily resolved. However, when you are troubled about something that affects patient safety or professional conduct, it can be difficult to know what to do.
You may be worried about raising such an issue, perhaps feeling that it’s none of your business or that it’s only a suspicion. You may feel that raising the matter would be disloyal to colleagues or to the practice. You may have said something but found that you have spoken to the wrong person or raised the issue in the wrong way and are not sure what, if anything, to do next.
This policy aims to enable everyone to raise concerns safely, as early as possible and in the right way. The practice encourages you to raise your concerns and is committed to dealing with them in a responsible, open and professional way. To provide the best care for our patients, we need to protect the interests of our patients, our staff and the practice. If you are worried about something, please raise it when it is just a concern rather than waiting for proof.
Our commitment to you
Your safety: Anyone who raises a genuine concern under this policy will be supported and protected from any adverse consequences or reprisals. You will not be at risk of losing your job – staff are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. If you are acting in good faith, it does not matter if you are mistaken or if there is an innocent explanation for your concern. We will not ask you to prove anything. We do not, of course, extend this assurance to someone who maliciously raises a matter they know to be untrue and, in that event, we will take disciplinary action.
Anonymous concerns: It is in the interests of the practice that concerns can be raised openly and dealt with fairly and professionally. If you do not tell us who you are, it will be much more difficult for your concern to be investigated and for us to protect your position or give you feedback. Although we will consider anonymous reports, our practice policy is not suited to concerns raised anonymously.
How we will handle the matter: Once you have told us of your concern, we will investigate the matter and interview relevant individuals to assess initially what action, if any, should be taken. This may involve an informal review or a more detailed investigation. We will maintain records of every stage of the investigation and give you as much feedback as we properly can. We may not be able to tell you the precise action we take if this would infringe confidentiality.
Please let us know at the outset if you have any personal interest in the matter. If your concern falls more properly within the grievance (or another) procedure, we will tell you.
How to raise a concern: If you have a concern, we hope that you feel you will be able to raise it with the Practice Director, Neil Phillips, who will undertake the initial investigations in strict confidence. If you do not want to raise the matter with the Practice Director, you can discuss the matter with the Clinical Director, Joanne Giddy.
Independent advice: If you are unsure about whether or not to raise a concern or you want advice at any stage, you can contact Public Concern at Work on 020 7404 6609. They also operate a special helpline for dental professionals in conjunction with the GDC which you can access by calling 0800 668 1329. Their lawyers can give you free, independent, confidential advice at any stage.
Supporting those who underperform
We have a duty to support staff who underperform or who are at risk of underperforming as a result of problems with their health, behaviour or professional performance: Standards for the Dental Team (GDC), paragraph 8.4.1.
If any team member has problems with, or fears that they may soon have problems with, their health, behaviour or professional performance, they are encouraged to raise this with the Clinical Director, Joanne Giddy, or the Practice Director, Neil Phillips. Such matters may also come to the attention of the practice management because they have been raised by a colleague. It does not matter how it comes to their attention – the process will be the same.
The first step will be for Joanne Giddy or Neil Phillips (or both of them together) to meet with the team member in private to discuss the situation and ascertain how best to help. All matters discussed will be treated in strict confidence (save where they must be reported to the GDC, CQC or other relevant body; or where they trigger or are relevant to disciplinary procedures).
The Clinical Director and Practice Director may take a range of actions to help the team member, such as:
- Listening sympathetically to their problems and concerns;
- Providing ongoing mentoring and/or personal support;
- Helping to arrange counselling;
- Helping to arrange medical treatment;
- Helping to arrange appropriate professional advice;
- Arranging appropriate training;
- Where operational requirements permit, arranging compassionate or study leave;
- Giving financial support.
This isn’t an exhaustive list. It also is not a guarantee that any or all of these steps will be taken. Any action taken is at the discretion of the Clinical Director and the Practice Director; though they will always seek to be fair and, where possible, to support rather than to penalise team members who find themselves in this situation. Our aim will be to address the problem and thereby improve or maintain performance wherever we can; since this is to the ultimate benefit of the patients, the team member and the practice.
These procedures operate alongside (and entirely without prejudice to) our disciplinary procedures as set out in individual team members’ statements of employment terms.
Web version 5: 24.11.2016 (reviewed 1.9.2017)
Previous web versions: 31.12.2010 (Reviewed 25.1.2012); 12.3.2013 (reviewed 19.6.2014; 5.6.2015); 30.9.2015; 3.8.2016