The key to complaints handling is a flexibility of approach. The complaints handling process should adapt to the needs of a patient and not the other way round. Although there is no single way to handle a complaint, there are some key steps that should always be considered:
Patients tend to take their complaints down formal channels (for example, to the Dental Council or to solicitors) when they don’t realise that an informal, effective resolution system is available within the practice, and/or when they don’t have any confidence that their complaint will be taken seriously and resolved effectively direct with the practice, or the dentist involved.
Invite patients to let you know if they are not happy with any aspect of the care, treatment or service they have received. It is sometimes a good idea to have a single, named person who is responsible for patient satisfaction and customer care in all its forms – this might include patient feedback (survey) exercises as well as dealing with complaints. Give this person a high profile in your practice so that patients will have the confidence to contact this person first, before considering any escalation of their complaint to bodies outside the practice.