Complaints can also be an opportunity to learn and improve your service.
In its Standards for the dental team (2013), the GDC advises to 'promote 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) 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.
Patients should be encouraged to give feedback on the quality of service they receive. Regular patient satisfaction surveys are a source of useful information about areas for improvement, such as appointment times, as well as more serious concerns.
Ask a representative sample of patients to complete the survey anonymously following their appointments, and analyse the results.
Patient satisfaction surveys can also be a good topic for clinical audit.
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 that lessons can be learned from them. Communicate any improvements to patients.
Some patients may also leave feedback on your practice on the NHS Choices website, so it's worth monitoring comments here as well.
Encourage staff members to raise concerns about risks to patient safety posed by colleagues, equipment or practice policies.
The GDC advises that practices should have a written policy in place which 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 guidance was correct at publication 18/07/2018. It 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.