Complaints handling best practice

You may be unable to prevent a complaint from being raised, however in our experience, there are certain steps which can be taken to avoid a complaint from escalating. We would advise the following;

  • Ensure that your practice has an in-house complaint handling procedure which is visible so that patients are aware of this
  • On receipt of a complaint contact your indemnifier for advice  
  • Acknowledge receipt of all complaints in writing ideally within 2 working days, also provide a timeframe for when the patient will receive a full response
  • A general guideline suggests that the patient should receive a full response within 10 working days. If this is not possible, please advise the patient of a date when they can expect a full reply to their complaint
  • Follow through on any arrangements made with patients such as a response to their complaint or referrals to a specialist or hospital, keep them updated of any progress made

If you are registered with the General Dental Council, you should ensure you are familiar with its expectations on complaints handling in its standards.

What to do if you need our assistance from the Dental Complaints Service

If despite your best efforts you and the patient are unable to reach a resolution, please advise the patient to contact the DCS for assistance and we will work you both to try and resolve the matter. Should you have any queries or questions in relation to our process, please call us on 020 8253 0800 and a member of the team will be happy to help you.

Together with 28 organisations from across the dental sector, we developed a set of universal principles for good complaint handling. 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.

The principles set out a very clear picture of what patients can expect when providing feedback or making a complaint.

The six core principles are:

  1. All of your feedback is important to us.
  2. We want to make it easy for you to raise a concern or 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 making a complaint.
  6. Your feedback helps us to improve our service.

A poster and leaflet showing these core principles are available for you to display on walls and in waiting areas of your practice. By using these materials, you can clearly to patients that you follow a good complaint handling . The leaflet and poster can be downloaded below:

Complaint handling initiative poster (63.4 KB, PDF)

Complaint handling initiative leaflet (64.6 KB, PDF)

In addition, we have developed a social media toolkit which contains example Facebook and Twitter posts, plus visual assets, along with a news story template that you may wish to publish on your website to tell your patients about this initiative. The toolkit can also be downloaded below:

Dental professionals toolkit (5 MB, ZIP)

The poster and leaflet are also available in hard copy on request.