complaintsThe General Dental Council (GDC) has said that it wants to deliver a ‘consistent approach’ to its handling of complaints. 

The statement forms part of the organisation’s initiatives to improve its current system of regulation for patients and dental professionals and to make sure issues are dealt with by the right organisation.

‘We know good practise exists, so we want to work with the profession to maximise the potential of complaints being handled between the dental professional and the patient, so there is a consistent approach across the four nations’, explained Bill Moyes, chair of the GDC.

In-depth plans, detailed in Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation, will be published on 26 January and will detail how the GDC proposes to strengthen the current complaints system.

Local resolution

The GDC hopes that issues raised by patients will dealt with appropriately – normally in the first instance by the dental practice.

The regulator said it still receives a ‘significant number’ of complaints that are unrelated to a dental professional’s clinical ability, and are not investigated as part of the fitness to practise process.

The GDC wants to work with the profession to remove  barriers preventing patients from complaining directly to the dental practice.

‘Even with an increased focus on prevention, sometimes things will go wrong and a patient will wish to make a complaint’, said Moyes.

‘Patients find it difficult to navigate the current system, so more needs to be done to make it easier for patients to complain, making sure the complaint goes to the most appropriate organisation.

‘There are clear benefits for patients and professionals in a system which enables early, quick and low-cost resolution of complaints and disputes.

‘The success of our plans are dependent upon working with others. 

‘We simply cannot bring about change without the support of the profession and our partners.’

Stronger relationships

The GDC said it also wants to strengthen its relationships with systems regulators and the NHS in the four nations, as well as professional associations, indemnity providers and employers, including corporate providers of dental services.

The plans cite the work of the GDC’s Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board as good partnership working.

The Board was established to address gaps and overlaps in regulation and for information to be shared more quickly between partners.