We had the opportunity to sit down with Ian Gordon, a seasoned professional who has navigated the intersections of dentistry and legal advice for over four decades. Ian’s extensive experience, coupled with his current roles at Densura and Riverdale Healthcare, offers valuable insights into the complexities of managing dental complaints and legal challenges.

From Dentist to Legal Advisor: Ian Gordon’s Journey

Ian’s journey in dentistry spans an impressive 40 years. “I’m a general dentist and still practice one day a week,” Ian shares. His transition into the legal advisory realm began with part-time work at Dental Protection and local advisory roles, eventually leading him to Densura. “I’ve got a fair bit of dental legal experience,” he says modestly. Today, he balances his time between being the Dental Director of Riverdale Healthcare, which operates 60 practices across the UK, and his advisory role at Densura.

The Art of Balancing Patient Expectations and Legal Realities

Ian’s role at Densura is officially one day a week, but the reality is far more encompassing. “I manage multiple inboxes—Riverdale, NHS England, and Densura—so I’m always picking up things throughout the week,” he describes. Thursdays are dedicated to Densura, where he handles new cases by contacting involved dentists, reviewing records, and guiding them in drafting responses to complaints.

With decades of experience, Ian’s approach to complaints is rooted in collaboration and humility, recognizing that even with broad knowledge, specialist input is often crucial. “If it’s about implants, for instance, I’d consult Julian Perry or another specialist,” he explains, “Your advice must be accurate and helpful”.

The process follows a “see and respond” approach. Ian often asks dentists to draft response letters to patients, refining these drafts as necessary. “It’s rare to get enough information on the first go,” he notes, indicating the iterative nature of resolving complaints. The goal is to craft responses that seem to come directly from the dentist, not a legal advisor, to avoid further questions and ensure patient satisfaction.

Ian acknowledges that sometimes dentists must hear difficult truths. Patients often imply their desired resolutions without stating them explicitly. Ian’s role involves advising dentists on managing these situations to prevent escalation. “If a resolution like a refund or a free treatment can prevent a more significant issue, it might be wise to accept,” he advises, emphasizing pragmatic solutions over potential legal battles.

Densura’s Distinctive Approach

Densura distinguishes itself from other dental defence organisations through its insurance-based model and exceptional legal support from Lockton’s team. “The real difference lies in the excellent legal support we receive,” Ian states, allowing the team to focus on providing the best advice rather than getting bogged down in administrative tasks.

Current Trends and Challenges in Dentistry

The post-COVID-19 landscape has introduced new challenges. High patient expectations, especially for cosmetic treatments like Invisalign and whitening, have led to an increase in complaints when outcomes don’t meet promises. “The response to COVID-19 and delays in treatment have caused issues,” Ian observes. Additionally, the regulatory environment and claims culture have made younger dentists more cautious, potentially impacting patient care.

Complementary Roles and Future Focus

Ian’s dual roles at Riverdale and Densura complement each other, enhancing his effectiveness in both capacities. His experience with NHS contracting and regulations informs his advisory work at Densura, while his legal insights benefit his operational role at Riverdale. This synergy underscores the importance of a well-rounded perspective in managing dental practices and legal issues.

Looking ahead, Ian emphasizes the need for a balanced focus on both advanced and basic dental treatments. “High-end treatments are important, but so is routine care,” he says, advocating for a holistic approach to patient care that builds loyalty and trust.

As the dental landscape continues to evolve, professionals like Ian will remain essential in guiding dentists through the intricacies of legal and regulatory frameworks, ensuring both patient satisfaction and professional integrity.

Ready to make the switch?

Get in touch if you’d like to switch from your current dental indemnity provider. Our team of experts will be happy to offer you a free, bespoke quote.

Insights from Julie-Anne Conway, one of Densura’s Dental Legal Advisors

Insights from Julie-Anne Conway, one of Densura’s Dental Legal Advisors

Julie-Anne Conway, with nearly 30 years of experience in general practice and almost a decade as a dental legal advisor, now plays a pivotal role at Densura, providing support and guidance to dental practitioners facing complaints and legal issues. Her daily work involves managing various cases, offering quick and empathetic responses to alleviate stress for dentists. Conway emphasizes the importance of understanding client experiences and the evolving complaint culture in dentistry. She highlights trends in dental law, particularly in managing periodontal disease, and underscores the value of learning from complaints. Supported by a knowledgeable team, Conway ensures clients receive comprehensive care, turning stressful situations into opportunities for growth and improved practice.