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If a patient makes a complaint, we will deal with it courteously and promptly so that the matter is resolved as quickly as possible. Our aim is to react to complaints in the way in which we would want our own complaint about a service to be handled, to learn from any mistakes we make and to respond to patients’ concerns in a caring and sensitive way. This policy sets out the procedures we will follow to ensure that we achieve these objectives.
satisfaction guaranteed – our promise to you
We promise that if you are not satisfied with your treatment we will either:
- repeat it at no cost to you; or
- where there is a suitable alternative, we will provide this for you at no additional cost (if it’s a more expensive treatment than the original, we’ll credit you in full for what you’ve already paid, so you only pay the difference); or
- refund what you have paid.
We do make an exception, which we feel is reasonable, where you have asked us to carry out treatment that we have advised isn’t optimal. For example, if we advised you to have a crown to strengthen a tooth but you elected to have a large composite filling instead. If the filling later fails, then honouring this guarantee is at our discretion.
The guarantee period for restorative treatments like fillings, crowns, bridges, etc. is 2 years.
encouraging feedback and complaints
We encourage our patients to give feedback and, where they are unhappy, to make a complaint if we haven’t met their expectations. This is important to us because it helps us to improve the service we provide.
In particular, where a patient tells us that they are leaving the practice we will ask them if they have been happy with their treatment and, if not, we will take the necessary steps to remedy the situation – even if the patient decides that they still aren’t coming back. If we have to part company then we’d always like it to be on good terms.
Patients will not be discriminated against for making a complaint and it will not have a negative effect on their treatment.
Where it is requested, advice and advocacy support will be provided to those who require it. Even if it is not requested, we may offer to arrange such assistance where it appears to us that this may be appropriate in the circumstances.
The person with overall responsibility for dealing with complaints is the Practice Director, Neil Phillips. However, any patient wishing to make a complaint should not hesitate to raise the matter with any member of the practice team, as they prefer.
verbal complaints (telephone or face-to-face)
If a patient makes a verbal complaint, the team member they are speaking to will listen to the patient and, if they are able, immediately attempt to remedy the problem. If this is not possible, or if the patient is asking for something that the team member is not authorised to provide (for example, a refund of treatment fees), the team member should contact the Practice Director immediately so that he can deal with the matter.
If the Practice Director is not available, the patient will be told when he will be and/or that arrangements will be made for him to contact them (and when this will happen). The team member will take brief details of the complaint and pass them on to the Practice Director. If the patient is unhappy with this, or is not able or prepared to wait, then arrangements will be made for the dentist or other appropriate person to deal with the matter in the Practice Director’s absence.
written complaints (letter or email)
Written complaints, whether in a letter or an email, will be passed immediately to the Practice Director for him to deal with.
Complaints relating to clinical care or associated charges will usually be referred to the dentist unless the patient does not want this to happen.
We will acknowledge the complaint in writing within 3 practice working days*. We will provide a full response (with redress or details of action to be taken, where appropriate) within 10 practice working days*. If this is not possible for any reason, we will notify the patient, giving reasons for the delay and the likely period within which the investigation will be completed.
The full response may initially be given at a meeting or by telephone if the patient finds this acceptable (and then confirmed in writing).
*NB at the time of writing, the practice is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays and so these would not count as a “day” for the purpose of these time limits. Similarly, practice holidays sometimes involve a complete practice “closedown” with only an emergency telephone service and these would also not be counted as working days.
In the event that a patient makes a complaint or commences/threatens to commence legal process(es) against the practice, we may need to provide information about the patient and the treatment they have received to our dental defence organisation, insurers and legal advisers in accordance with our Data Protection Policy.
We will keep proper and comprehensive records of any complaints we receive, responses we give and any action taken. These will be kept separately from the patient’s clinical notes. They will not be accessible by any treating clinician or member of the practice team not directly involved in dealing with the complaint. These details will also not be passed on if, for example, the patient moves to another dental practice and their notes are requested.
where a patient is not satisfied with the outcome
Where a patient is not satisfied with the response to a complaint, they may refer the matter to the Dental Complaints Service, The Lansdowne Building, 2 Lansdowne Road, Croydon, Greater London, CR9 2ER; telephone 08456 120540. This organisation handles complaints about private treatment (NB: hygeia dental care only provides treatment on a private basis and does not provide any NHS services).
Web version 5 – 27.10.2016 (reviewed 11.2.2017; 1.9.2017)
Previous web versions – 4.2.2011 (reviewed 25.1.2012); 3.2.2012 (reviewed 9.3.2013; 19.2.2014; 19.6.2014; 20.2.2015); 5.8.2016; 10.9.2016