Our experience in helping members has shown time and again that if the proper procedures are in place to do so, most complaints can be effectively dealt with in practice.
The complaints procedure should outline the following:
- the name of the complaints manager
- details of how to contact the practice if there is a complaint
- how the practice will handle verbal complaints
- how the practice will handle written complaints
- details of how the complaint can be escalated if the complainant is still unsatisfied.
In relation to this last point, this should be the relevant ombudsman for NHS complaints. For private patients, this should be the Dental Complaints Service (DCS).
What not to include
Remember, despite the requirement to tell complainants how they can escalate their complaint, the complaints procedure does NOT need to mention the GDC. If your complaints procedure tells patients they can complain to the GDC, update it so this reference is removed.
Because there is no obligation to tell patients they can complain to the GDC, removing this reference might help prevent a complaint unnecessarily escalating to the GDC. This could in turn lead to the complaint being resolved more swiftly and easily, leading to satisfied patients and giving you more time to spend on providing treatment.
Complaints, and complaints procedures, are common factors in calls for help from members. See below for some other helpful resources and articles on the subject:
Piecing together a complaints procedure
Having a proper complaints procedure can help you solve patient issues and restore calm.
Coping with a complaint
One DDU member talks us through the shock and stress of receiving their first complaint, as well as how we were able to support them through it.
Dealing with dental complaints
Complaints are common, and it's vital to know how to manage them professionally and appropriately. Read our concise but comprehensive guide.
DDU dento-legal adviser
Nick Torlot BDS FDSRCS (Eng) qualified from UCH in 1983 and spent 19 years as assistant and then clinical director of Salaried Dental Services in Hampshire, while continuing to practise clinical dentistry. He has been involved in dental education as an adviser and vocational trainer with the London Deanery and as a trainer with the Winchester scheme. Nick joined the DDU as a dento-legal adviser in 2010.
See more by Nick Torlot