In his excellent contribution to the Dentistry debate on the General Dental Council (GDC), Eddie Crouch bemoaned the breakdown of local resolution of disputes within the NHS.
We are not alone in this, however.
A recent report from the General Medical Council (GMC), reported on in the Daily Telegraph, found that the majority of complaints they received should have been dealt with by the NHS organisation concerned.
Cases to the GMC doubled between 2007 and 2012 to around 6,000.
Its first response was to commission a study by Peninsula Medical School to discover the reasons behind this rise.
Contrast this with the knee jerk response of our GDC to raise the annual retention fee (ARF) by 64%, without even bothering to analyse a similar percentage rise in complaints.
Only 1,000 of the 6,000 complaints to the GMC were fully investigated, and ‘only a handful’ resulted in fitness to practise hearings.
In 3,750 cases the complaint was looked into by the GMC and immediately closed.
A further 1,300 cases were referred back to the doctor’s employer.
In some cases no doctor could be identified to blame.
How many GDC cases are ‘immediately closed’?
We don’t know.
How many cases, where the dentist concerned is an associate, are referred back to their practice owner?
How often are corporates held to account for the actions of their staff?
The GMC report identifies social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as providing forums where patients can exchange information about their treatment and about how to complain.
There is some justification in, GDC chair, Bill Moyes’ view, in his Pendlebury lecture, that complaints about dentists are likely to continue to rise.
His solution to this problem was to blame the dental profession and raise the ARF.
Contrast that with the statement by Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC.
He said: 'We have no evidence that the rise in complaints about doctors reflects falling standards.'
He said that patients were more willing and able to complain.
The challenge for the GMC (and the GDC) was to make sure that anyone who has a complaint can find their way to the right organisation to deal with it.
But he added 'For the vast majority of patients and relatives this will mean local resolution.'
The pity for dentists is that such thinking seems alien to the GDC.