Spike in number of NHS dental complaints, figures show

Spike in number of NHS dental complaints, figures show

New figures reveal a small increase in the number of NHS complaints involving primary care dental services.

As a result, 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.

The latest figures on written complaints in the NHS in 2021/22 highlight a small increase in NHS complaints involving primary care dental services.

It rose from 14,052 in 2018/19 to 14,285 in 2021/22. In 2020/21 only 8,751 complaints were recorded. This is because dental services were paused during the pandemic and no data was collected in 2019/20.

Common causes of complaints

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

  • Clinical treatment (22.0%)
  • Charging/costs (21.5%)
  • Appointment availability/length (11.8%).

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 being made in 2018/19.

Dedication of colleagues

Leo Briggs is deputy head of the DDU. He 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. 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.’

The DDU has detailed advice on dealing with complaints. Find out more by visiting its website www.theddu.com.

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