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Vulnerable Patient Policy

A variety of risks is termed under vulnerability. Although all patients incur the risk of being vulnerable, having vulnerable attributes makes this risk more detrimental. Poor health, such as cognitive impairment, life events, such as taking on extra caregiving responsibilities, low resilience to withstand financial or emotional shocks, and limited capacity, such as weak read-ing or math skills.

Standards were established by the “Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)” in order to ensure Practices could understand what was expected of them. The requirements imposed by the following principles are clear from their instruction, which mandates that we treat patients fairly.
Toothbeary will take the following steps set out by the FCA to help vulnerable patients get good results:

• Recognise the requirements of our intended patients
• Ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary knowledge and abilities to identify and respond to the needs of vulnerable patients
• Check to see if we are meeting and addressing the needs of our patients who exhibit vulnerable qualities and improve if necessary

Encouraging disclosure

Toothbeary will help frontline staff to understand how to actively listen out for information that could indicate vulnerability and, where relevant, seek information from vulnerable pa-tients that will allow them to respond to their needs.

Ensuring frontline staff have the necessary skills and capability to recognise and respond to a range of characteristics of vulnerability.

Toothbeary will ensure that staff have the skills and capabilities to recognise vulnerability and respond appropriately to individual needs so they can be treated fairly.

It may be necessary to recommend a patient to a team member or colleague who can assist in order to adapt to their needs. Staff are not expected to go beyond this to proactively discover vulnerability, but they should take action to promote disclosure where they see obvious symptoms of risk.

The ability of staff to determine when it is acceptable to seek out more assistance, such as by elevating a case to the next level, requesting additional assistance from specialised teams or directing a patient to outside assistance. For instance, if the patient is in a challenging circum-stance that is outside of the Toothbeary’s purview.

The outcomes for vulnerable patients can be influenced by integrating the fair treatment of vulnerable patients across the workforce, from senior management down to clinicians, front-line, and pertinent back-office workers. In order for all relevant employees to recognise and account for the requirements of vulnerable patients in their work, Toothbeary will make sure that they have the necessary knowledge and capabilities, as well as the necessary systems and processes to support them. The leadership team will establish a setting where treating vulnerable people fairly comes first. When performing their duties, employees should be sup-ported by governance, processes, and systems to fulfil the requirements of vulnerable pa-tients.

Practices are reminded that in treating patients fairly, they should also be aware of their ob-ligations under the Equality Act 2010. It is likely that a breach of the Equality Act, for example, failure to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled people, will also be a breach of the FCA’s rules.

‘Toothbeary conducts internal training with regard to vulnerable patients; new staff members undergo training during the induction process, which is updated annually or as the need for additional training arises. The practice manager oversees the internal training.’

https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/finalised-guidance/fg21-1.pdf

Reviewed 16/08/2023