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Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints

Communication

In this Section:

The General Dental Council’s Standards for the Dental Team [1] states that you must have a clear and effective complaints procedure, you must respect a patient’s right to complain and that you give a prompt and constructive response to any complaint. It also recommends that all dental professionals undergo continuing professional development (CPD) to keep up-to-date with handling complaints [2].

It is a condition of the Terms and Services for Dentists that all NHS general dental practitioners must have a practice-based complaints procedure [3] (see Handling Complaints).

The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 [4], and subsequent Regulations and Directions introduced certain rights for patients using NHS services. These are summarised in ‘The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities’ [5]. One of these patient rights is the right to give feedback, make comments, raise concerns or make complaints about NHS services, including dentistry. The Act also places a responsibility on health service providers to encourage, monitor, take action, and share learning about the views they receive and provide staff with training to enable them to respond efficiently and effectively to any feedback, comments, concerns or complaints raised with them.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has responsibility for setting and monitoring the complaints handling standards for the public sector. The set of standards are known as Model Complaints Handling Procedures (MCHP), and there are standards for different sectors across  the public sector. The NHS Scotland MCHP (NHSS CHP) came into effect on 1 April 2017 [6].

Key actions to comply with the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 [4] and subsequent Regulations and Directions:

Appoint a member of staff to act as the Feedback and Complaints Officer for the practice.

Put in place Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints Handling Procedures [i.e. the practice’s ‘Complaints Procedure’] for both patients and practice staff, that includes information on where patients can go for support when making a complaint (see Handling Complaints). Ensure the procedures are readily available, easy to understand and use, and are accessible to all in an appropriate format (e.g. large print option, digitally accessible).

Ensure the availability of the practice’s complaints procedure is well publicised, e.g. by poster (see Handling Complaints), information in the practice leaflet, on the practice website etc.

Arrange for all staff to be trained in dealing with feedback, concerns, comments and complaints sensitively and with understanding.

  • The GDC recommends that all dental professionals keep up to date on how to handle complaints as part of their CPD requirements [2].

Empower all staff to encourage feedback, comments, concerns and complaints and act to help bring about resolution quickly and easily (see Handling Complaints).

Record all feedback, comments, concerns and complaints, including anonymous complaints, and analyse to promote learning and improvement (see Recording and Learning from Complaints).

Provide the Health Board with information on complaints (quarterly) and feedback, comments and concerns (annually) (see Recording and Learning from Complaints).