Comments, Suggestions and Complaints Policy

Policy Statement:

In this Practice, we seek to provide a quality service and we are committed to using the information gathered through patient feedback and complaints to continually improve the service. We value feedback about our service and recognise the right of our patients to pay us a compliment - suggest an improvement in our service or make a complaint. Where dissatisfaction occurs, we want our patients, to feel confident that if they complain it will not affect our relationship or the service the individual may be receiving from us.

The purpose of this document is to outline the Policy for recording, dealing with and reporting on, patient feedback and complaints. We consider that the process of complaining should be as straightforward as possible. Our Complaints Policy reflects the recommendations from the Francis Report (2013). We also adhere to the guidance from the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 16 – Receiving and Acting on Complaints. We have taken Guidance from The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009

Aim of the Policy:

We learn from every mistake that we make and we respond to patients’ concerns in a caring and sensitive way and we promise to:

  • Provide an accessible, straightforward procedure for those wishing to make a comment, suggestion and/or a complaint;
  • Use plain language in all communication and ensure we communicate with the patient in the appropriate way and format;
  • If the patient requires an advocate or an interpreter, we will support the patient to access these services;
  • Provide guidance which has emphasis on the early resolution of complaints;
  • Provide a procedure which ensures all patients are treated with the same open fair approach;
  • Set and monitor targets for responding to feedback;
  • Keep patients informed when we cannot send them a response within our target time;
  • Inform patients about their rights to escalate a complaint when dissatisfied with our response;
  • Review each piece of feedback carefully to establish what lessons we can learn and if we can improve our services as a result.


This Policy for dealing with patient feedback and complaints shall be applicable to all services provided by the Practice. Patient feedback is essential to the improvement of services and although the system is primarily about dealing with complaints, it will also be used to record suggestions and compliments.


Principal Orthodontist:

  • ‘Responsible Person’ with overall responsibility for complaints
    • Registered Manager:

      • The Registered Manager has responsibility for the service delivered;
      • Designated Complaints Manager;
      • Ensures that all employees that may have to deal with complaints/comments receive both adequate and appropriate training;
      • Where the complaint is about an employee, the complaint will be investigated thoroughly as a priority and the patient will be advised of the outcome within the defined timescale;
      • Responsible for ensuring that actions taken are recorded and if necessary that a file containing all relevant working papers is prepared on each complaint investigated.
        • Employees:

          • Employees are responsible for their own patient service;
          • Helping patients, when required, to clarify their complaints;
          • Recording complaints;
          • Ensuring that information on how to give feedback or make a complaint is available to patients;
          • Ensure the ‘How to make a complaint’ leaflet and poster is prominently displayed in the Practice Waiting Room;
          • Ensure that the appropriate forms on which patients can quickly and easily indicate their level of satisfaction with the service are available to all our patients
            • How do we publicise this Policy?

              We will publicise this Policy by making information available:

              • In our service information leaflets and newsletters;
              • We send out to new patients by email or post;
              • In our Practice; and
              • On our web site

              How do we promote equality of access?

              We are committed to making sure that everyone has equal access to this Policy. To achieve this, we will:

              • Communicate with patients in an open and honest way
              • Promote the Policy so that patients understand it and are confident to use it.
              • Train our employees to be sensitive to the needs of people from different cultures and communities.
              • Treat people with respect and be open to ideas about how we can make access easier.

              What is a compliment?

              A compliment is when a patient gives us feedback about how we exceeded expectations in delivering the service or how an employee has gone the ‘extra mile’ to serve them

              • We will record details and acknowledge receipt within 3 working days.
              • The employee concerned will be written to by the Registered Manager (Designated Complaints Manager) to thank them for the Service provided to the patient.
              • Feedback the information to all our patients and our team

              What is a suggestion?

              A suggestion is when a patient, comments on how we can improve our service.

              • Record details and acknowledge receipt within 3 working days
              • Send a response to the patient within 10 working days that either explains how we will Implement the suggestion or we will investigate it further, or why we are unable to implement the suggestion.
              • Keep the patient informed about any delays
              • Discuss the suggestion at a Team meeting and agree a way forward
              • Feedback the suggestion to our patients and actions we have taken

              What is a complaint?

              A complaint is ‘an expression of dissatisfaction’ about:

              • The standard of service and/or its delivery;
              • Action or lack of action by the Practice or its employees;
              • Complaints may be verbal, in written or anonymous;
              • A complaint must be made within 12 months of an incident happening;
              • A patient can choose to complain to the Commissioner of the service instead of the Practice, but not to both.

              What should not be treated as a complaint?

              • If an issue has been raised orally and is resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction not later than the next work day (24 hrs) we are not required to deal with it as a complaint;
              • Requests for a service (although a request for a service may turn into a complaint if not dealt within a reasonable period of time)
              • Requests for information or explanation of the Practice’s Policy and Procedure

              How complaints are made?

              In many cases complaints are made verbally to front line employees. The Registered Manager will ensure that all employees are trained and confident in dealing with comments, suggestions and complaints expressed by patients.

              An individual or Practice may make a complaint directly to the Principal Orthodontist Richard Gibson and give the Practice a reasonable opportunity to respond. Any complaints from an individual or Practice shall then be investigated in keeping with this procedure.

              When dealing with a complain we will:

              • Not ask for verbal complaints to be put in writing;
              • Write up a statement of the patient’s complaint and ask the patient to confirm its accuracy;
              • We will confirm with the complainant that their issue is a complaint and not a comment or suggestion;
              • We will acknowledge the complaint within 3 working days;
              • We will carry out an investigation and agree with the complainant the timeframe for responding, however this will be no longer than 6 weeks from the complaint date;
              • We will inform the complainant if the investigation is going to take longer than 6 weeks and re-negotiate another date with the complainant;
              • We will explain who will be investigating the complaint and provide the complainant with a named contact;
              • We will explain how the outcome will be shared with the complainant and ask if they wish to receive the response in a format other than in writing;
              • We will address any immediate appointment issues;
              • Make clear that their care and that of their family will not be compromised as a result of making a complaint


              Redress should be appropriate to the failure in service and should, where possible, be the redress the person wants.

              The essential elements include:

              • An apology;
              • An explanation;
              • An assurance that the same thing will not happen again;
              • Action taken to put things right.

              Employees should be careful not to promise action or redress which they may not be able to deliver.

              What action can we take to put things right when things go wrong?

              If we make a mistake, we will apologise and try to take some practical action to put things right. We may ask the patient to suggest what they would like us to do.

              We will also try to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again. We may decide that one or more of the following can be done to put things right:

              • Provide a change of service to the patient
              • Provide an explanation or information to the patient
              • Review patient literature
              • Review the Policy and Procedure
              • Arrange training or guidance for employees
              • Take employee action

              Monitoring and Management Reporting

              Monitoring Progress

              The Registered Manager will monitor progress on complaints under investigation.

              Internal Audit

              The Registered Manager will audit the system annually and will confirm that the system is working effectively and efficiently.

              The Registered Manager may carry out random post/telephone checks with a percentage of patients to test patient satisfaction with the way in which complaints have been handled and resolved. If sources of dissatisfaction are identified corrective action will be taken within available resources.

              If a complainant wishes to complain directly to the Commissioner of the Service, they can contact NHS England in the following ways:

              NHS England
              PO Box 16738
              B97 9PT

              By email to:

              If you are making a complaint, please state: ‘For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line.

              By telephone: 0300 311 22 33

              British Sign Language (BSL): If you use BSL, you can to talk to us via a video call to a BSL interpreter. Visit NHS England’s BSL Service

              General Dental Council
              37 Wimpole Street,
              W1M 8DQ

              The GDC can look into serious concerns about the ability, health or behaviour of a dental professional that suggest the professional could cause significant harm to patients, colleagues or the general public, or undermine public confidence in the dental profession.

              If you have not received a response to your complaint within 6 months you have the right to approach:

              The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

              Millbank Tower
              SW1P 4QP
              Phone: 0345 015 4033

              For complaints about private treatment:

              Dental Complaints Service,
              Stephenson House
              2 Cherry Orchard Road
              CR0 6BA
              Telephone: 08456 120 540


              Comments, suggestions and complaint training – ( is included in the induction for all new employees. Updating and knowledge testing is conducted at least annually through

              Complaints is a set Agenda Item for all Practice Meetings


              This policy has been approved by the undersigned and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

              Name: Richard Gibson
              Date approved: August 2019
              Review date: August 2020