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News / January 7, 2008

Fewer dental complaints in Northern Ireland

by Guy Hiscott

People from Northern Ireland are among the least likely in the UK to complain about dental services, a new report has found.

Less than one in 100 complaints logged by the Dental Complaints Service is from Ulster, according to the service’s first annual report.

The Dental Complaints Service helps resolve complaints about private dental care, and logged more than 1,500 complaints in its first year, the majority of which were resolved within three working days.

A total of 0.88% of complaints came from Northern Ireland, which is comparatively lower than its percentage of the UK’s population (2.87%, according to the 2001 UK census).

The South East, London and the South West yielded most complaints per head of population while Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North East yielded the least.

The Dental Complaints Service was set up and funded by the General Dental Council, yet operates independently of the UK dental regulator.

Derek Prentice, who chairs the service, said: ‘We’re not sure why comparatively fewer private dental patients in Northern Ireland have taken advantage of the service, but we are always ready to help and urge them to call if they need us.’ He continued: ‘Speed is crucial. All the evidence shows that the longer a complaint takes to resolve, the less likely it is to be resolved satisfactorily, because the parties become more and more entrenched.’

More than half of the 1,559 complaints logged and closed by the service in its first year were resolved over the phone, often by urging the patient and dental professional to talk.