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: “We all know that good complaint and feedback handling is an important part of being a dental professional which is why 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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For further information contact Tom Chappell, General Dental Council Media Manager on tchappell@gdc-uk.org, 020 7167 6044 or 07738 182756

Notes to Editor

The Profession-wide Complaint Handling Initiative Working Group developed the principles of good feedback and complaints handling, and their work was also informed by the views of dental patients. The following organisations are members of the working group: Association of Dental Administrators and Managers, Association of Dental Groups, British Association of Dental Nurses, British Association of Dental Therapists, British Dental Association, British Orthodontic Society, British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Bupa Dental Care, Care Quality Commission, CFC Underwriting, CODE, DDU, Dental Complaints Service, Dental Protection, Dental Technologists Association, Department of Health and Social Care, General Dental Council, Health Education England, LDC Confederation, MDDUS, mydentist, NHS Digital, NHS England, Orthodontic National Group, Orthodontic Technicians Association, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Simplyhealth, Society of British Dental Nurses.

The GDC’s annual Patient and Public Survey provides valuable insights into dental patients' and the public's views and perceptions. The research employs both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative research is conducted with a statistically representative sample of the UK population and enables conclusions on what the population as a whole thinks about certain issues, while the qualitative research enabled a more in-depth exploration of some of the key issues, nuances, motives and thought processes that may be behind the quantitative results. It is conducted with a small sample and is not representative. The results are illustrative rather than definitive. In 2017 the survey was carried out by the independent social and market research agency Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the GDC. For more information visit gdc-uk.org/about/what-we-do/research

Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation sets out the GDC’s proposals to reform dental regulation. It addresses out how we will work collaboratively with our partners to develop a model of upstream regulation that involves professionals and their regulator working together in the interests of patient safety and public protection. For more information about the Shifting the balance proposals visit gdc-uk.org/shiftingthebalance

The Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board (RDSPB) is formed of organisations with a role and responsibility for setting, managing and regulating how dental care is provided in England. It aims to jointly ensure that patients receive high-quality, safe dental services from professionals and organisations that are competent and meet national standards, and that services improve. The board’s purpose is to review the approach to dental regulation across England and assess the effectiveness of current arrangements to develop a more streamlined, joined up and effective model of regulation.

Editors Notes





01788 575050


The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

Visit www.bsdht.org.uk for more information.


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