Articles, Dentistry

Making a complaint

Since the General Dental Council (GDC) announced a ‘consultation’ into a proposed rise in the annual retention fee of 64%, thousands of words have been written all across the dental media.

For me though, two sentences encapsulate what is wrong with the GDC.

They were spoken by its chairman, Bill Moyes, a month ago, when he gave the Pendlebury lecture.

He said: '96% of patients claim to be "satisfied" with their dental treatment.

'But they have no clear idea of what might constitute quality of service or of treatment.'

What, in effect, he is saying, is: 'These ignorant peasants may think they are happy with their dentist, but we know better.'

The arrogance of this mindset is breathtaking.

Despite years of working at the Office of Fair Trading, the hospitals regulator and the British Retail Consortium, he seems woefully ignorant of how markets work.

When I go to a restaurant, I don’t know what qualifications the chef has or what standards of hygiene the kitchen employs.

I do know if I like the food and whether the service is good.

If it is not I complain to the owner or maitre d’.

I don’t need a ‘General Cooking Council’ to complain to; I make sure I never go back there again.

If customers don’t return for a repeat meal, the restaurant is in danger of closing.

That is the market, and dentistry is no different.

Seeking to justify its now infamous advertisement in the Daily Telegraph encouraging patients to complain if they were not completely satisfied with their treatment, the GDC said that 27% of patients didn’t know where to complain.

Yes they do – they find another dentist.

Just as they do if they don’t like their bank or energy supplier.

Dentists soon get the message if patients don’t return or don’t encourage their friends and relations to visit.

With the GDC apparently believing that market forces do not work and that all complaints should be referred to itself, it is not surprising that it is overwhelmed with complaints, which need more of dentists’ hard earned money to address.

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