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GDC survey shows low level of dental complaints

Posted by Yvonne Wallace

Very few patients have complained or even considered making a formal complaint about a dental professional, a survey has shown.

More than 1,600 people were surveyed for The 2012 General Dental Council Annual Patient and Public Survey, which showed that only two per cent have lodged a formal complaint during the last 12 months.

Comparatively, 95 per cent of respondents said they had not found fault with the care they had received and 93 per cent of people said they had never considered raising a concern.

One reason for a lack of complaints is patients’ faith that the industry is already being effectively monitored by the General Dental Council (GDC), with 71 per cent of interviewees saying they are confident in regulation.

Similarly, patients are inherently trusting of surgeries with fewer than one in ten people saying they have checked the qualifications of dentists treating them. Participants assumed that if a practice existed, it must be run by registered, qualified and regulated dental staff.

For those that have raised concerns, the survey indicated that motivation comes from a desire for poor performance to be addressed or to prevent other patients from having the same problems, rather than an effort to claim compensation.

However, significant numbers of patients (32 per cent) said they did not know how to complain or to whom they should turn to. While 20 per cent also said they were put off because they did not believe the matter would be investigated.

The survey also asked respondents what obstacles might prevent them from complaining; 29 per cent said they did not know how to begin a procedure and 26 per cent said they did not know who or where to go to find out the information.

The GDC stressed results from the survey reflect the need for patients to be given the necessary information so they know how to go about raising concerns if they are unhappy with care they have received.

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