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Effective complaints handling

Post date: 25/09/2016 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

A complaint handled professionally can actually be a practice builder

It’s fair to say that nobody likes to receive complaints, but our ability to respond to them constructively, and to learn any lessons that they provide for us, goes to the very heart of professionalism especially working in dental practice. However good you and your team are you will occasionally receive complaints. Research shows that where a complaint is handled well, then the loyalty of that patient is often strengthened. Did you know that a complaint handled professionally can actually be a practice builder? 

NEW complaints handling workshops

As well as helping individual members Dental Protection advisers also develop risk management initiatives. I’ve been working with NHS England to develop complaint handling workshops which we can deliver jointly across the country. The first workshops are scheduled to take place in Southampton, Liverpool and London, with more taking place next year in Newcastle, Leicester and Taunton.

It’s really encouraging to see that the workshops have had a lot of support, including from the GDC, who have recently introduced a new process for dealing with complaints. The new process encourages local resolution, particularly for lower level concerns, such as poor communication or where a dentist has adequately failed to explain their charges. 

Rosemary Carter, Council Member and Chair of the Policy and Research Board of the General Dental Council said: 

“Having mechanisms in place to deal with concerns or complaints is the first step to handling them well. Complaints are an important opportunity for both constructive engagement with patients and for learning, and we want dental teams to feel confident to deal with patient complaints at a local level as early as possible.

“By working with our partners across the sector, we have been able to develop a better system that can be rolled out nationally.”

The emphasis of these workshops is to promote good practice and local resolution – helping dental teams to transform complaints in to a learning opportunity.

What’s really rewarding when delivering these events is meeting dental teams who are on the “front line” in practice and helping them to develop skills and confidence to deal with what can sometimes be quite challenging complaints. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Southampton, and that’s where Dental Complaints Adviser, Zoe Wray, and I will be for the first workshop on 28 September 2016. We’re looking forward to speaking to and working with all the participants in what will be the first of a series of workshops. 

Complaints Handling Advice Booklet

We’ve also worked with our digital team to produce a complaints handling advice booklet – we’ve included a handy flow chart, as practice teams often need a quick guide as to the process.


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