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Early career dentists share fears over complaints

Post date: 21/06/2022 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 21/06/2022

88% of young dentists in the UK believe their generation of dentists will receive more patient complaints and legal cases throughout their careers, according to a Dental Protection survey.

In the snapshot survey of dentists who qualified in the last five years, 2 in 5 (41%) of those surveyed went on to say they feel worried about receiving complaints directly from patients after treatment.

Just over half (56%) said they feel confident in their ability to resolve complaints from patients.  

George Wright, Deputy Dental Director at Dental Protection commented:

“We support members with complaints day in day out and know being on the receiving end of one is unpleasant for any dental professional. Due to higher patient expectations and a more prevalent complaints culture over the years it is understandable that early career dentists feel the prospect of a complaint is greater than it was for the previous generation of dentists.

“Periodic restrictions affecting access to routine dental care during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting treatment backlog, has also increased the volume of complaints and indeed this has been a common advice query to Dental Protection. While this is a challenging environment for any dental professional, many of those starting their careers in the last few years may feel the ‘firefighting’ reality of general dental practice is not in line with their expectations.

“Now more than ever, young dental professionals need to be confident in handling complaints effectively to help avoid them escalating, and where possible minimising the risk of complaints occurring. This makes skills such as good communication, expectation management, detailed record-keeping and establishing clear consent invaluable.

“We know facing patient complaints on top of a plethora of other pressures can be stressful, and we are always here to offer support and advice. Members are encouraged to contact Dental Protection as soon as a patient complaint is received so we can help from the outset.

“I would also encourage young dentists experiencing work-related stress due to a complaint, to make use of our counselling service which is a member benefit. This service is delivered by ICAS’ independent, qualified counsellors who are available 24/7.”


Notes to editors

  • The snapshot survey conducted by Dental Protection ran from 18 November 2021- 4 December 2021 and achieved 121 responses from dentists in the UK up to 5 years post-qualification.

For press queries contact: E: [email protected] 

Counselling service

Our counselling service is provided by our trusted partners ICAS, who offer a personalised and professional service tailored specifically to your requirements and delivered by experienced qualified counsellors.

ICAS's telephone counselling provides immediate access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and face-to-face counselling sessions can be arranged near to you and at your convenience, all funded by Dental Protection.

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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