DDU encourages dental professionals to get support early as complaints increase

NHS figures show an increase in dental practice complaints.

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) is encouraging dental professionals to get support from their dental defence organisation as soon as they become aware of a potential complaint, as NHS figures show an increase in cases.

The latest figures on written complaints in the NHS in 2021/22 have shown a small increase in NHS complaints involving primary care dental services, rising from 14,052 to in 2018/19 to 14,285 in 2021/22. In 2020/21 just 8,751 complaints were recorded, as dental services were paused during the pandemic and no data was collected in 2019/20.

Overall more than 225,000 written NHS complaints were recorded with more than 120,000 being in primary care (GP and dental) and 105,500 in hospital and community health settings. This compares to around 209,000 complaints being made in 2018/19.

Leo Briggs, deputy head of the DDU, said:

"It is concerning that there has been a slight rise in NHS dental complaints since before the pandemic. However, given the disruption we have seen to dental services and the impact this has had on patient care and treatment, it is a testament to the dedication of colleagues that the figure has not risen more sharply.

"At the DDU, our role is to lessen the burden on members and we encourage them to get our help early on if they are aware of a potential complaint. We can support them in how best to manage a complaint to ensure patients receive a professional and timely response."

According to the NHS digital data, the most common causes of complaints involving dental practices were:

  • clinical treatment (22.0%)
  • charging/costs (21.5%)
  • appointment availability/length (11.8%).

The DDU has detailed advice on dealing with complaints, including our comprehensive guide to practice complaints procedures.

This page was correct at publication on 28/11/2022. 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.