Listening to patients and staff, and dealing with feedback

Patients and other members of the dental team can be a good source of feedback on the quality of dental care and treatment provided by the practice.

Here are four simple guidelines for receiving feedback.

  1. Say "thank you". More often than not, receiving feedback is helpful, so be grateful for it.
  2. Clarify what you've heard by restating it, to let the person know their opinion matters and that you're really listening.
  3. Say how you'll seek to change as a result.
  4. Actively seek out more feedback. You'll get better at receiving it and people will feel more comfortable approaching you.


  • Complaints can be an opportunity to learn and improve your service.

In its Standards for the dental team (2013), the GDC advises promoting "a culture of openness in the workplace so that staff feel able to raise concerns" if they believe patients are at risk. It also says that you should "respect a patient's right to complain" and deal with complaints properly and professionally.

When carrying out practice inspections, national bodies such as the Care Quality Commission, Health Inspectorate Wales, The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (NI), Scottish Health Boards and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will expect to see evidence that a service is responsive to people's needs and that practices engage with and involve patients in that process.

Satisfaction surveys

  • Satisfaction surveys encourage patients to give feedback on the quality of service they receive.

Ask a representative sample of patients to complete the survey anonymously following their appointments and analyse the results. These surveys are a source of useful information about areas for improvement, such as appointment times, as well as more serious concerns, and can also be a good topic for clinical audit.

Complaints procedure

  • Make details of your complaints procedure available on your practice website and in the practice where patients can see it.

Issues raised in complaints should inform the practice's quality assurance system. Review complaints constructively so lessons can be learned from them, and communicate any improvements to patients.

Some patients may also leave feedback about your practice on the NHS Choices website, so it's worth monitoring comments here too.

Raising concerns

  • Encourage staff members to raise concerns about risks to patient safety posed by colleagues, equipment or practice policies.

The GDC advises practices to have a written policy in place that is readily available to staff. Once someone has raised a concern, they should be taken seriously and offered support. You can also invite staff to raise quality assurance and risk management issues during their appraisal, or at practice meetings.

This page was correct at publication on 05/04/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.


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