Rise in complaints about private dental care

  • Date: 13 December 2011

COMPLAINTS about private dental care made to the Dental Complaints Service (DCS) have risen by almost a quarter since 2009.

New figures show complaints jumped by 24 per cent from 1,180 in 2009/2010 to 1,559 in 2010/2011. The DCS also revealed that of the 1,559 complaints made between May 2010 and the end of April 2011, 67 per cent were resolved within a week.

The most common non-clinical reason for complaint in 2010/2011 was failure of treatment (862 complaints) followed by concerns from patients that they were ‘uninformed’ (158). Others complained about post-operative pain (121) or that they were ignored (110). Clinical complaints were most commonly made about crown treatments (239) followed by root canal (142). There were 126 complaints made about bridge work while 112 complaints were made about amalgam fillings.

Dentists were the focus of the overwhelming majority of complaints (1,519) followed by dental technicians (17) and hygienists (13). Clinical dental technicians were the subject of eight complaints while dental nurses prompted two complaints.

The DCS, which was set up by the General Dental Council in 2006, provides a free and impartial service to private dental patients and professionals with the aim of resolving complaints quickly.

Complaints that can’t be resolved go to a panel meeting where three volunteers (made up of lay and registrant members) help both parties resolve the complaint without the need for legal proceedings. Twenty-three panel meetings were held in 2010/2011 compared to 18 in 2009/2010.

Of the panel meetings held in 2010/2011, the dentist was ordered to refund the patient on 14 occasions and recommendations for future practice were made on 12 occasions. The panel found there was no complaint to answer seven times while the patient and dental care professional reached their own agreement twice.


Dental Complaints Service Annual Review 2010/11

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