BDA expresses concern over online patient feedback

NHS Choices allows serious but unsubstantiated anonymous allegations to be made about dental practitioners and is often too slow in moderating inappropriate comments, according to the BDA.

The "Patient feedback" feature on the NHS Choices website allows for individuals in England to comment on the dental care they receive or that of a friend or family member. It is not intended as a formal complaint procedure.

The BDA has appealed to NHS Choices following feedback from a number of BDA members about the way that the site allows serious but unsubstantiated allegations to be made about practitioners anonymously with an often-slow process for moderating inappropriate comments.

The BDA is also concerned that many primary care trusts appear to be retaining the editing rights for practice profiles on the website, despite previous assurances that the ability to edit would be opened up to practices as the feedback functionality on the site was rolled out.

Dr John Milne, Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: "Dentists have very reasonable concerns about the way that malicious or even fictitious feedback can be given anonymously via the NHS Choices website. We’re asking NHS Choices to take those concerns on board and act to ensure that this facility isn’t abused and that the way the site is moderated and edited is fair and efficient.

"Feedback is extremely valuable to dental practices because it helps to drive improvements for patients and dentists therefore welcome constructive comments from their patients. But malicious unattributed comments from individuals who may not even be patients at a practice are not only unhelpful, but could also be damaging. In seeking to achieve the very laudable aim of promoting patient choice, we must be careful not to unfairly sacrifice the reputations of clinicians. The issues the BDA is raising will help to ensure that dentists are treated fairly."