Patients show appreciation with chocolates, flowers and home-grown veg, DDU survey reveals

Our survey reveals the generosity of patients towards dental professionals.

Despite the pressures currently facing dentistry, patients have shown their appreciation for individual dental professionals over the past year with small gifts and thank you messages, according to a survey by the Dental Defence Union (DDU).

The DDU survey of 460 dental professionals found that 90% had received a gift or thank you message from patients over the past year. The most common gifts were chocolates, which 70% of respondents had received. These were followed by flowers, which a third had been gifted (33%), and alcohol, which a quarter received (28%). The more unusual presents included a home-grown cabbage, a back scratcher, dog toys, and a sheep - which was declined.

John Makin, head of the DDU, said:

"It's heartening to know that patients are choosing to show appreciation for the care they've received from dental professionals. While appreciated, colleagues don't expect to receive gifts, especially given the rising costs of living. Most explained they get as much satisfaction from doing a good job."

Guidance from the GDC on receiving gifts advises dental professionals to refuse any gifts if they could affect or be seen to affect your professional judgement.

John continued:

"Most dental professionals (89%) had no concerns about motives for gift giving with only a small number being concerned a gift may breach professional boundaries (6%) or that patients may be trying to influence a decision (3%). Nevertheless, it is important to ensure gifts don't raise ethical issues.

"We recommend members don't accept expensive gifts and keep a register of all gifts received in case they need to justify them at a later date. Only a quarter of respondents (24%) said their workplace had such a register, while 19% weren't sure and more than half (56%) didn't keep a record."

In other results from the survey, nearly half of dental professionals (49%) said they were as likely to receive a gift now as before the pandemic, whereas a third (38%) said gifts were less likely now.

When asked about their work schedule over the festive period, 48% of dental professionals said they would be working, with a small number of those (3%) working on Christmas Day or New Year's Day.

The DDU surveyed a sample of dental professionals in December 2023 with the 461 respondents representing a 6% response rate. Respondents included general dental practitioners (78%), hospital, community or armed forces dentists (16%) and dental care professionals (5%).

This page was correct at publication on 21/12/2023. 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.