Practice Policies

  • confidentiality policy

  • who we are

  • waste policy

  • complaints policy

  • customer survey results

  • bullying and harrasment policy

  • performance policy

  • Our philosophy

  • Patient safety policy

  • violence and aggresion policy

  • Discrimination policy

  • infection control policy

  • data protection policy

  • practice training policy

  • cancellations

  • health and safety policy

  • clinical record keeping

  • recruitment policy

  • Consent policy

  • disability policy

  • Equality policy

  • Prescribing

  • handling of CRB disclosures

  • Clinical guidance policy

Confidentiality policy

This policy sets out The Smile Zone rules and procedures for
maintaining strict confidentiality in relation to personal information
about patients. All practice team members are required by their
contract of employment or contract for services to observe these rules
and procedures.

The importance of confidentiality
The relationship between dentist and patient is based on the
understanding that any information about the patient will be treated
in the utmost confidence and will not be divulged to a third party
without the patient's consent. Patients have a right to privacy. It
is vital that they have the confidence to give the dentist full
information about their health in order to ensure that treatment
carried out is appropriate and safe. The intensely personal nature of
health information means that many patients may be reluctant to give
full information to their dentist unless they are sure that the
information will not be passed on. If confidentiality is breached, a
dentist, hygienist, therapist, technician or nurse may face
investigation by the General Dental Council (GDC) and possible erasure
from the Dentists or DCP register. They may also face legal action by
the patient for damages and, for dentists, prosecution for breach of
the 1998 Data Protection Act.

General dental council
All staff must follow the GDC's rules for maintaining patient
confidentiality as set out in: "Standards for Dental Professionals"
and "Principles of Patient Confidentiality". If confidentiality is
breached, each registered dental professional involved is responsible
to the GDC for their individual conduct.

What is "personal information"?
In a dental context, this includes:

The patient's name, address, bank account or credit card details,
telephone number, email address or any means of personal
identification such as photographs.
The fact that the person is or ever has been a patient of the practice
or that they attended, failed to attend or cancelled an appointment
information about the patient's physical, mental or oral health or
Details of historic, planned or ongoing treatment
Information about family members
Details of personal circumstances supplied by the patient to others
The amount paid for treatment, the amount owing or the fact that the
patient owes the practice money.

Principles of confidentiality

The practice has adopted the following three principles of

Personal information about a patient is confidential in respect of
that patient and to those providing the patient with health care;
It should only be disclosed to those who would be unable to provide
effective care and treatment without that information (the "need to
know" concept); and
Such information should not be disclosed to third parties without the
consent of the patient except in certain specific circumstances
described in this policy.

Disclosure to third parties

There are certain restricted circumstances in which a dentist may
decide to disclose information to a third party or may be required to
disclose by law. Responsibility for disclosure rests with the
patient's dentist and under no circumstances can any other member of
staff make a decision to disclose. A brief summary of the
circumstances is given below:

When disclosure is in the public interest: There are certain
circumstances where the wider public interest outweighs the rights of
the patient to confidentiality. This might include cases where
disclosure would prevent a serious future risk to the public or assist
in the prevention or prosecution of serious crime.
When disclosure can be made: (i) with the express consent of the
patient, (ii) where this is necessary to enable someone else to
provide health care to the patient and the patient has consented to
this sharing of information, (iii) where it is required by statute,
(iv) pursuant to a court order, (v) in order for the dentist to pursue
a bona-fide legal claim against a patient (eg disclosure to a
solicitor, court or debt collecting agency).
Disclosure necessary to provide health care  or referral of the patient to another dentist or health care
provider such as a hospital.

Data protection policy
The practice's Data Protection Policy details how we comply with the
Data Protection Act 1998. It is a condition of engagement that all
practice staff complies with this policy.

Access to records
Patients have the right of access to their health records, whether
held on paper or on a computer. Full details of charges and
procedures are provided in the practice's Data Protection Policy.
Care should be taken to ensure that the individual seeking access is
the patient in question and, if necessary, staff must seek
confirmation of identity from that individual.

Practical rules

These principles give rise to a number of rules that everyone in the
practice must observe:

Records must be kept secure and in a place where it is not possible
for for other patients or individuals to read them.
Information about patients must not be discussed with anyone outside
the practice, including relatives or friends.
A school must not be given information about whether a child attended
for an appointment on a particular day.
When talking to a patient on the telephone or on a public area, care
should be taken to ensure that sensitive information is not overheard
by other people.
Do not give information about a patient's appointments to their
Messages about a patient's care must not be left with third parties,
nor on an answering machine. Where care requirements must be
discussed, all that can be left is a message to call the practice.
All patient recalls and personal information must be sent in a sealed
Where information is to be shared with a third party, such as where a
referral is made to a specialist outside the practice, information
should be sent either by post in a sealed envelope to a postal address
that has been verified (for example, by telephone call to a
Consultant's medical secretary) or by email to an email address that
has been similarly verified as valid and secure.
No information may be disclosed to officials such as police officers,
tax officials, etc, without the express permission of the dentist.
Patients must not be allowed to see information contained on day
sheets or computerised appointment books, since these inevitably
contain information about other people.
Discussions about patients should not take place in public areas of
the practice.
Discussions with patients about their care should take place in the
surgeries or other areas where they will not be overheard.
Where a child is competent to make decisions about their treatment and
wishes to do so, we will also observe confidentiality in relation to
them - ie we will not share information with the child's parents
without the child's consent.
If in any doubt about whether information is confidential or whether
the person requesting it is genuinely entitled to receive it, DO NOT
DISCLOSE ANYTHING but politley decline and refer the matter to the
dentist or the the Practice Director.
disciplinary action
If, after an investigation, a member of staff is found to have
breached patient confidentiality or this policy, he or she will be
liable to summary dismissal.

Employees are reminded that all personal data processed at the
practice must by law remain confidential after your employment has
terminated (for whatever reason). It is an offence under section 55
(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998, knowingly or recklessly, without
the consent of the data controller , to obtain or disclose personal data. If the practice suspects
that you have committed such an offence, it will contact the Office of
the Information Commisssioner and you may be prosecuted by the
Commissioner or by or with the consent of the Director of Public


Any queries about confidentiality should be addressed to Dr Daniel



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