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Complaints and confidence

The GDC provides an insight into views on regulation

A survey of more than 1,600 people across the UK has revealed how few patients think about complaining about their dental professionals.

The 2012 General Dental Council Annual Patient and Public Survey can be read in full here.

Very few (2%) of those who say they have visited a dentist say they have complained or even considered making a formal complaint about a dental professional during the last 12 months. Specifically, 95% say they had never complained and 93% of these say they have never considered complaining.

Who do people complain to?

When people complain, or consider making a complaint, they tend to complain or want to complain directly to the practice where they had the treatment. More than a third (37%) approached or would approach their dental practice to make a complaint.

However, 32% of those who'd complained, or considered making a complaint, weren't sure who to complain to. The survey also asked those who had considered making a complaint, what prevented them from doing so – 29% said they did not know where to start and a further 26% said they didn't know who or where to go to for information on how to complain.

The GDC is committed to letting people know who they need to complain to.

Information on the best route to take can be found on the GDC website here.

Confidence in dental regulation

The survey has revealed a high level of confidence in the GDC's regulation of dental professionals.

Around eight out of ten respondents (78%) who have heard of, or think that they have heard of, the GDC are confident that it's regulating dental professionals effectively. In addition 80% are confident that dental professionals follow the GDC's rules.

The research findings are now being used to help improve the GDC's performance.

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The GDC is. like many public bodies, needing to justify their existence to a greater degree than ever before. Unfortunately for dentists in particular, they have become rather 'trigger happy' of late. There is most certainly a deluge of hearings before them, because they tend to automatically presume the dentist complained about is guilty until proven innocent, rather than the other way round. The 'process' is cumbersome, even medieval, in the waste of time and resources for relatively minor infractions. Good dentists are being unfairly persecuted over what should be contractual matters between them and the PCT, or matters of interpretation of the ambiguous NHS contract wording. The GDC aims to maintain public trust in the profession, yet they do more than anyone to undermine it with their stream of information to all UK media outlets about which dentists they have struck off. Might they at least wait until the results of appeals are known before blackening the names of dental professionals in their home communities? I was the subject of a vexatious and frivolous complaint by one patient, which was completely without foundation, and fortunately for me, even the GDC could see that in the end. Nevertheless, they initially jumped into full legal process. No courtesy phone call based on my unblemished record of over thirty years of practice with no complaints. I was accused of six serious professional failings, endured almost a year of sleepless nights and stress, and was offered no avenue to seek redress against the individual who made the complaint. I think all of the members of the GDC would be far better employed if the government transferred them to duties investigating Banksters, Lawyers and Politicians. We dentists are hapless patsies in the diversionary tactics of the elite from their own far more damaging endeavours in society. The profession is not even self -regulating any more, as dentists are in the minority on the 'judicial' panels. I heard of a case recently where an 'expert dental witness' hadn't practised dentistry since 1987, yet the GDC sub-committee were actually taking this individual seriously. Dr Alison Lockyear had the integrity to resign. I say well done to her. The GDC has a long way to go to regain my confidence.