The General Dental Council, a regulatory body for UK dentists is launching a Dental Complaints Service in order to fast track the hearing of complaints related to private dentistry. The new service expects around 2000-3000 complaints each year. At the moment there is very little recourse for people who have complaints with private dentists.
"We hope that patients will use this service to sort out problems, and avoid the expense and delays of court action," said Hew Mathewson, the GDC president. "The service will also help dental professionals to improve the quality of service they provide."
Currently many patients are turning towards the private sector after a paucity of dentists in the NHS. While NHS patients can complain using the process in the trusts, there is no such provision for the private sector.
"Patients rightly have confidence in the high professional standards applied by the vast majority of dental practitioners, but as with any service - complaints will arise.," said Health Minister Rosie Winterton. "It is widely recognized that a complaints service for private patients, parallel to that for NHS patients, is long overdue."
The process works out in the way that the patient who lodges the complaint will first be encouraged to use his own dental service. If that does not resolve the problem then dental Complaints Service advisors will discuss it with the concerned practitioner and the patient. Serious complaints will be dealt by the GDC.
"When complaints are made it is in everyone's interests that they are dealt with quickly and fairly," said Peter Ward, chief executive of the British Dental Association. "The BDA has long campaigned for a private complaints procedure and so welcomes the launch of this new service which is an important development for dentists and patients."