Case study

  • Date:
  • Category:
    Concern involving a contractor
    Concern within a small organisation
    Handling a concern directly at Stage 2 due to timescales
    Moving from business as usual into the Standards


A part-time dental nurse in a dental practice with four dentists feels they are being bullied into working longer hours than they are contracted to.  The situation has developed over several months, and their relationship with one dentist in particular has become strained.

When the dental nurse notices that the cleaners have not been cleaning some areas of the surgery, they raise concerns with one of the other dentists.  However, their concerns are brushed aside.  The dental nurse becomes concerned that all the dentists will hear about this and the bullying will get worse.

After speaking to a representative from the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN), they decide to write to the practice manager, outlining their concerns about their treatment and in relation to the cleanliness of the surgery.  

The practice manager meets with the dental nurse and they discuss what has happened both in relation to the suggestion of bullying, and in relation to concerns over cleaning.  They agree that these are two separate issues, which should be progressed through different procedures.  

In relation to the issues of cleanliness, they decide to use the whistleblowing procedure. They discuss the support and protection provided by the whistleblowing procedure, and what this could mean for the dental nurse, including follow-up meetings, counselling and other support available through the BADN.  The practice manager provides assurances that their discussion will be kept confidential in relation to the whistleblowing concerns, as much as this is possible.

The practice manager agrees to investigate the records and to undertake a more general review of the cleaning contract, which has been in place for two years without review.  They also ask other nurses for their feedback on cleanliness meaning that any action taken is based on information from several sources, so the dental nurses own input will be less significant.  Given the timescales and investigation involved, they decide to log this as a stage 2 concern.

When the practice manager asks other nurses for their input they find that several of them have identified issues, but have not raised them to date.  This raises concerns for the manager in relation to the cleanliness, which they deal with through the contract with the cleaners.  It also raises concerns about staffing issues.

The practice manager feedbacks on the outcome of the cleaning review to all staff and signposts the dental nurse to the INWO if they have any concerns about how the issues have been investigated.
In relation to the dental nurse's concerns about bullying, the practice manager pursues this through their grievance procedures, focusing on the bullying relating to working hours, and on the fact that other staff have been reluctant to raise concerns.

Updated: January 9, 2020