Our opinion on complaint handling best practice, the six core principles
When I am working with a practice on their patient experience, handling complaints can be on the agenda. Unfortunately sometimes dealing with rude and abusive patients is on the agenda too.
This week the “six core principles for handling complaints” has been released. This is a joint initiative by 28 organisations in Dentistry to support complaint handling in practice with the aim of reducing patients going directly to the General Dental Council.
When dealing with a disgruntled patient I always advise that the team listen, use positive body language and encourage the patient to use the practice’s complaints procedure – this can worry practice owners and managers as complaints are seen as a negative. To me they can be really positive as they may:
- Stop the patient complaining and put an end to the conversation
- Stop tit for tat conversation “yes we cancelled you but you have been late five times”
- Allow the patient to calm down
- Allow the practice to investigate and most often confirm that your systems work for you (that’s great) or you learn that you need a new system or an amendment to a system and team training
- Demonstrate to the patient and all patients listening that you are not worried about a complaint and will instead not take whinging and moaning from patients.
For me, there are three categories of complaint:
Minor – parking issues, roadworks and the clinician running up to five minutes late.
Medium – Running over five minutes late, cancelling patients, charging a patient for an FTA, failed treatment, unhappy outcome from treatment.
Major – GDC, CQC, legal letter.
All of the minor and medium complaints need to be logged regardless of a patient making a formal complaint.
I agree with the recommendations in the poster but do want to stress that the team do need to be trained on how to handle a complaint and they must know the complaints procedure so that they can communicate it with ease.
For more information and to download the poster and leaflets click here