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Launch of universal principles for complaint handling

20 November 2018

Leaders from across the dental sector join forces to launch universal principles of good complaint handling

28 organisations from across the dental sector have joined forces to launch a set of universal principles for good complaint handling today. The six core principles provide a simple template for best practice, helping professionals and patients to get the most from feedback and complaints, for the benefit of all.

According to the General Dental Council's (GDC) 2017 Public and Patient Survey, 97% of dental patients report being either very (67%) or fairly (29%) satisfied with their dental treatment and only 8% report having considered making a complaint. However, of those who have, 33% said they had not done so because they didn't know where to start.

GDC Executive Director, Strategy, Matthew Hill, said: "Handling complaints is an important part of being a dental professional and a complaint well-handled is something to be celebrated, not feared. For this reason, we committed to developing a profession-wide understanding of what best practice looks like in Shifting the balance. There was really strong support from across the sector for this, so a working group was formed which went on to develop the six core principles. These set out a very clear picture of what patients can expect when providing feedback or making a complaint."

The six core principles to communicate to patients are:

  1. All of your feedback is important to us.
  2. We want to make it easy for you to raise a concern or complain, if you need to.
  3. We follow a complaints procedure and keep you informed.
  4. We will try to answer all your questions and any concerns you raise.
  5. We want you to have a positive experience of making a complaint.
  6. Your feedback helps us to improve our service.

Director of Primary Care Commissioning at NHS England, Dr David Geddes, said: "Local resolution to complaints should always be encouraged and this work will hopefully help dental practices be more confident in their complaint handling. It will also encourage patients and their carers to consider the different ways in which they can provide feedback, with the option of making a formal complaint being more clearly explained."

The working group's aim is for the principles to be clearly displayed and accessible in every clinical setting providing dental care by May 2019.

Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice & Dentistry at the Care Quality Commission, Janet Williamson, said: "Good care not only understands the clinical needs of people using services, but also listens to their experiences and reacts to their concerns. These principles build on the work of the Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board and will help people using services to understand what they should expect when they raise a complaint – as well as helping people working in dentistry to understand that feedback and complaints can play an important part in driving improvements in the care that they offer."

More information and supporting resources, including a poster and leaflet, are available electronically from many of the working group members' websites. They are also available in hard copy on request.


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