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Recording and Learning from Complaints

Communication

Staff should ensure that all complaints are recorded (see under Templates below), even those resolved at the Early Resolution stage, within 5 working days. Anonymous complaints must also be considered as far as possible and recorded to allow for staff learning and completeness of the practice’s complaints records.

Records should include:

  • Name, address and e-mail address (if that is the preferred method of communication) of the person making the complaint.
  • The patient’s name and personal details, e.g. Community Health Index (CHI), where relevant.
  • Confirmation that the patient has given consent for another person to act on their behalf, if required.
  • Date the complaint was received.
  • Name of staff member who received the complaint.
  • How the complaint was received (e.g. in writing, verbally).
  • Subject matter of the complaint and the date it occurred.
  • Date the complaint was closed at Early Resolution stage (if appropriate).
  • Date the complaint was escalated to the Investigation stage (if appropriate).
  • Action taken at the Investigation stage (if appropriate).
  • Date the complaint was closed at the Investigation stage (if appropriate).
  • The outcome of the complaint at each stage.
  • The underlying cause of the complaint and any remedial action taken.

Feedback, comments, concerns and complaints should be used as a learning experience to enable practice staff to learn from events, avoid future complaints and identify whether any changes are needed in the management of patients.

Record all feedback, comments, concerns and complaints, including anonymous complaints.

Analyse all feedback, comments, concerns and complaints to identify and promote areas for learning and improvement or to recognise where staff have performed well, e.g. through review at practice staff meetings.

Know the contact details of your Health Board’s Feedback and Complaints Team.

Send quarterly reports in relation to complaints, and annual reports in relation to feedback, comments and concerns, to the local Health Board’s Feedback and Complaints Manager.

Consider having a suggestion box for patients to submit their comments, concerns and feedback.

Publicise the practice complaints procedure.

Take action to improve patient experience. e.g. Consider obtaining feedback by use of a patient experience questionnaire.

Keep complaint records up to date at each stage of the resolution process and keep them separate from patients’ dental records.

Ensure that the response to a complaint demonstrates that action has been taken.

Arrange for all staff to be trained in dealing with feedback, concerns, comments and complaints sensitively and with understanding [1].

  • The GDC recommends that all dentists and dental care professionals keep up to date on how to handle complaints as part of their CPD requirements [1,2].

Empower staff to encourage feedback, concerns, comments and complaints and act to help bring about resolution quickly and easily.

Welcome feedback, comments, concerns and complaints and view these as opportunities for improvement.

Sources of Information

  1. Principle 5: Have a clear and effective complaints procedure. Standards for the Dental Team. (2013) General Dental Council
  2. Continuing Professional Development General Dental Council