DTC Competition: Reflecting on a Complaint with Mahesh Popat

Next entry for my DTC competition is from Mahesh Popat from Manchester University...

How would you feel if someone complained about you or a service that you provided?

The NHS received 208,924 written complaints in 2018-19 alone…

As dentists, we have to be prepared for how to respond to a complaint, we have to have a protocol in place to follow, and we have to take the necessary actions. An important action to take after receiving a complaint is reflection. A reflection involves asking yourself what went wrong and what you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“Why did Mr Smith complain?”

“What can be improved to prevent this from happening again in the future?”

It also requires investigating any underlying problems and may involve setting up an audit, questionnaire or even a complete change of procedure. Reflection will allow us to make a change and reduce the chance of another complaint.

In a hypothetical situation, whereby I receive a complaint in an NHS practice, I would undertake a set sequence of actions. Local resolution would be the ideal first line response, as it will maintain the patient’s confidence. The complaint should be acknowledged within 3 working days. If local resolution is unsatisfactory, the complaint should be escalated for an independent investigation with the Ombudsman, within 12 months. Throughout this procedure, communication with the patient is key to maintaining trust.

The final step, and arguably the most critical step, is reflection. Einstein defines insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Without reflection we cannot identify the reason for the complaint and therefore the complaint may arise again and again.

If there is one message to take home, that is to reflect.

Look out for more entries for the competition coming soon!

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