An independent complaints service for private dental treatment is operated by the General Dental Council (GDC), the regulatory body for UK dentists. The service aims to enhance patient protection and promote high standards of private dentistry in the UK.
Resolving complaints can involve recommending an apology, a refund of fees and/or a contribution by a dental practice towards the costs of remedial treatment. If an NHS patient has a complaint they can use the NHS complaints process, but until recently there has been nothing in place to assist the private dental patient.
The Dental Complaints Service is there to help dental patients resolve complaints about private dental care as fairly, efficiently, transparently and quickly as possible. The service also helps dental professionals to improve the quality of service they provide.
Dissatisfied dental patients who call the Dental Complaints Service are first encouraged to use their dental practice's own complaints procedures, if they have not already done so. If a complaint remains unresolved, Dental Complaints Service advisers will discuss it directly with the patient and dental professional concerned.
If the adviser cannot resolve matters, the complaint will go to one of a series of regional panels, consisting of two members of the public (lay volunteers) and one dental professional volunteer, who will advise the lay panel members on clinical issues.
The panel will meet with the dentist and complainant and recommend how best to resolve the complaint, with the emphasis being on resolving complaints using common sense. Serious complaints - which raise issues about patient safety and whether a practitioner should be allowed to continue practising - will continue to be dealt with by the GDC.
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