Unresolved Complaints


If complaints are unresolved locally, the Health Board, the GDC Dental Complaints Service (for private patients complaints only) [1] and Healthcare Improvement Scotland [2] (which regulates private clinics) may be approached by either the patient or the practitioner.

The Health Board will only become involved if the practice or the person making the complaint asks them to assist in handling the complaint. The Health Board can act as ‘honest broker’ to facilitate communication between the person and the practitioner but have no responsibility to investigate complaints. At this point, consideration may be given to mediation, if both parties agree. Where agreement cannot be reached, it will be for the Health Board to determine how the complaint should be managed.

If the person is unhappy with the outcome of their complaint or the way in which it has been handled, they may then request an investigation by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) [3], which is responsible for investigating complaints about Scottish Government departments and Public Bodies.

The Ombudsman will normally only look at a complaint if it has been through the practice complaints procedure. Complaints referred to the SPSO must be made in writing and must include copies of all previous correspondence. There is normally a time limit of 1 year after the event.

The Ombudsman cannot look at complaints that go to court or independent tribunal, or private treatment complaints.

Private treatment complaints are considered by the GDC Dental Complaints Service [1] or Healthcare Improvement Scotland [2].