Code of Practice for Patient Complaints

At Berkhamsted Dental Practice we take complaints very seriously indeed and try to ensure that all our patients are pleased with their experience of our service. When patients complain, they are dealt with courteously and promptly so that the matter is resolved as quickly as possible. This procedure is based on these objectives.

Our aim is to react to complaints in the way which we would want our complaints about a service to be handled. We learn from every mistake that we make and we respond to patients’ concerns in a caring and sensitive way.

WHO CAN COMPLAIN? A complaint can be made by a patient or person affected or likely to be affected by our actions or decisions. A complaint can also be made by someone acting on behalf of a patient or person, with their written consent.

WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT FOR MAKING A COMPLAINT? You should normally complain within 12 months of the event(s) concerned or within 12 months of becoming aware that you have something to complain about. We have discretion to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why you could not complain earlier.

WHAT IF I AM TAKING LEGAL ACTION? If you are taking legal action or state that you intend to start legal action then you may not also use the NHS complaints procedure, unless part of your complaint is about something unconnected to the legal action. If you stop the legal action (or there are outstanding issues that have not been resolved by the legal action), then you can still use the NHS complaints procedure to pursue your concerns regarding any NHS treatment.

TO WHOM SHOULD I COMPLAIN INITIALLY? Local resolution is the first stage of our complaints process. Please complain directly to Berkhamsted Dental Practice so that we can address your complaint as soon as possible. The designated person responsible for dealing with any complaint about the service we provide is John O’Grady.

If a complaint is made on the telephone or at reception we will listen to the complaint and offer to refer the complainant to John O’Grady at once. If John O’Grady is not available at the time then the complainant will be told when she/he will be able to talk to John O’Grady and arrangements will be made for this to happen. The member of staff will take brief details of the complaint and pass them on. If we cannot arrange this within a reasonable period or if the complainant does not wish to wait to discuss the matter, arrangements will be made for someone else to deal with it.

If a complaint is made in writing or by e-mail it will be passed on immediately to John O’Grady.

If a complaint is about any aspect of clinical care or associated charges it will normally be referred to the clinician concerned, unless the patient does not want this to happen.

We will acknowledge a complaint in writing and enclose a copy of this code of practice as soon as possible, normally within three working days. Once your complaint has been received John O’Grady will contact the patient to discuss matters in more detail and agree a way forward. He will ask how the patient would like to be kept informed of developments, for example, by telephone, face to face meetings, letter or e-mail.

He will inform the patient of the likely time to complete our investigations. If you feel unable to talk about your complaint, or wish for all contact to be done in writing, then please let us know.

We will seek to investigate the complaint speedily and efficiently and will keep the patient regularly informed, as far as practicable, as to the progress of the investigation. We would aim to complete most investigations within twenty five working days of the complaint being received and normally in no more than six months at the maximum.

When we have completed our investigation, we will provide the patient with a full written report. The report will include an explanation of how the complaint has been considered, the conclusions reached in respect of each specific part of the complaint, details of any necessary remedial action and whether the practice is satisfied with any action it has already taken or will be taking as a result of the complaint.

Proper, comprehensive and confidential records are kept of any complaint received as well as any actions taken to improve our services as a consequence of a complaint.

WHAT IF I AM UNHAPPY WITH THE RESPONSE TO MY COMPLAINT? If you are not satisfied with the result of our complaints investigation procedure there are further steps you may take:


The Dental Complaints Service, run by the Dentist’s Registration Body (The General Dental Council)
At: 37 Wimpole Street
London WIM 8DQ
0845 222 4141
020 7887 3800


FOR COMPLAINTS ABOUT NHS TREATMENT you can use the mediation service.

This is a free confidential service, which provides the patient/complainant with the opportunity to talk to an independent person with regard to the outstanding issues relating to their complaint. The mediator would then liaise with Berkhamsted Dental Practice and where possible reach an understanding and an agreement between both parties. If appropriate, the mediator may take advice from an independent professional advisor on any clinical aspects of the complaint. Mediation can be requested by either party to a complaint, but can only take place with the agreement of both parties.

If you remain unhappy with the response you have received to your complaint under Local Resolution then you can complain to the Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is completely independent of the NHS and Government. You can contact the Ombudsman at: Millbank Tower, Millbank, London. SW1P 4QP Tel: 0345 0154033

You can get further advice regarding complaints about NHS treatment at:


NHS England,
PO Box 16738
B97 9PT
Tel: 0300 311 22 33
Marked “For the attention of the complaints team.”
The Independent Complaints Advisory Service (ICAS)
Hertlands House
Primett Road
Herts SG1 3EE
Tel: 0300 456 2370
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
King’s Court
London Road
Tel: 01707 275978


You can also raise concerns about poor care with the Care Quality Commission at:
Tel: 03000 616161
The CQC cannot deal with specific complaints but can investigate if you believe we are not providing safe levels of care.

Prepared: Jan 2009
Updated: March 2010, October 2012, April 2013, January 2018, July 2022