Information for Patients about Feedback, Concerns, Comments and our Complaints Policy

Our aim is to give the best possible care and treatment to our patients.
We welcome feedback and comments about our services and aim to deal with any concerns or complaints promptly, courteously and efficiently.
We take steps to make patients aware of how they can give feedback or make a complaint and where they can obtain support for making a complaint.

We consider all feedback, comments, concerns and complaints as a positive way of looking at what we do and making changes to improve our service to patients.
If we cannot resolve matters in the way you want, we will explain why it is not possible to do as you suggest. All views, even those that are anonymous, will be taken seriously and our procedures are in line with the NHS Scotland Complaints Procedure.


The practice Feedback and Complaints Officer is:

Euan Smith, tel: 0131 337 2983, Email:

Euan is responsible for the management and handling of feedback, comments, concerns and complaints and for seeing complaints through to resolution.
Feedback, Comments and Concerns

We want you to let us know if something is important to you, such as:

  • What you think about the care and treatment you have received
  • What we have done well
  • Whether you have any concerns, e.g. about your appointment times or the facilities at the practice
  • If you have any suggestions to help us improve things
  • If you don’t understand something and need more information about our services

You can tell us by:

  • Talking to any member of staff;
  • Contacting Euan Smith – as above
  • Telling the Patient Advice and Support Service (see under Contacts);
  • Contacting the local NHS Board (see under Contacts).

We will use the information you give us to improve the services we provide.

Complaints about NHS treatment

You can make a complaint about:

  • NHS care or private treatment you have had or are having at the practice
  • Our services or facilities
  • A member of staff
  • How services in the local area are organised, if this has affected your care or treatment.

It is not possible to list everything you can complain about. If you want to complain about something not listed above, we encourage you to do so.

You cannot use this complaints procedure:

  • If you have commenced legal proceedings about the issue you want to complain about.

NB: We will we always offer to resolve your complaint through this complaints procedure before legal action commences

  • To request a second opinion in respect of care or treatment – ask your dentist!
  • For a previously concluded complaint or a request to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
  • A complaint that is being or has been investigated by the Scottish Public Services Ompbudsman (SPSO) – see below

It is not possible to list everything you cannot complain about. If other procedures can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.

Time limits: Normally, you must make your complaint within 6 months of:

  • the event you want to complain about; or
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event

How to make a complaint:

  • You can complain in person, by phone, online or in writing. Please note that if you fax or email other people may be able to see your personal information.
  • If you can, please first talk to a member of staff involved with your care. We will try to sort out the complaint on the spot.
  • If you are unable to talk to the member of staff involved with your care, ask to speak to Euan Smith our Feedback and Complaints Officer.
  • If you don’t want to complain to anyone in the practice, you can contact the Patient Advice and Support Service or the Lothian Feedback and Complaints Team (see under Contacts below).

When making your complaint, please give:

  • Your full name and address*
  • The full name, address and date of birth of the patient, if you are complaining on behalf of someone else
  • Written permission from the patient, if you are making the complaint on behalf of the patient
  • As much helpful information as possible about what happened, where it happened and when, and what you would like to have done about it
  • Your preferred method of communication

*You can make an anonymous complaint but this is likely to limit the ability of the practice to resolve it.


  • We will keep information about your complaint confidential. We may have to talk to other NHS staff or show them your dental record.
  • If you do not want us to share information from your dental record, please tell us when you make your complaint, but bear in mind this may make it more difficult to look into your complaint.
  • We will keep a record of your details and the complaint and use it to help improve our services, and for statistical purposes.

What we will do:
We have a two-stage complaints handling procedure. We will always consider if a complaint can be dealt with at Stage 1 first. If we think the complaint is too complex or serious and clearly needs to be investigated we will go straight to Stage 2. You also have the right to ask for an investigation (without going through Stage 1).

Stage 1: Early Stage

  • We always aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provide the service. Where appropriate this could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem.
  • We will make you aware of this complaints policy and where you can turn to for support for making a complaint (see Contacts below).
  • Sometimes we will need to make some enquiries before we can respond to your complaint. If this is the case, we will give you our response within 5 workings days using your preferred method of communication.
  • In exceptional circumstances, an additional 5 working days may be needed to respond to your complaint, but we will keep you informed of this and will only apply this extension with your agreement.
  • We will meet with you to discuss the matter if you prefer. You may bring someone with you to the meeting.
  • If you are not happy with our Stage 1 response to your complaint, you can ask for an investigation (see Stage 2 – Investigation below).
  • Where appropriate, we will offer to discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied following our response to your complaint.

Stage 2 – Investigation

  • We will use the Investigation stage where:
  • your complaint is complex and we believe it requires detailed investigation; or
  • you are not satisfied with our Stage 1 Early resolution response to your complaint; or
  • you ask for an immediate investigation.
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint in writing within 3 working days.
  • We will tell you what action we will take to look into the complaint.
  • We will let you know where you can find support for making a complaint.
  • We will respond to the complaint within 20 working days in writing and using your preferred method of communication, if that is different. If we are unable to keep to this timescale we will let you know and tell you why, and agree revised time limits with you.
  • Our response will let you know the result of the investigation. We will:
  • Show that we have looked into your complaint and reply to all the points you make;
  • Offer an apology if things have gone wrong;
  • Explain what we will do to stop what you complained about happening again;
  • If necessary, explain why we cannot do anything more about some parts of your complaint;
  • Offer you the chance to talk to a member of staff if there is anything in the letter you do not understand;
  • Include information about the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman in case you are unhappy with our response or the way we have handled your complaint and you want to take things further.

Complaining on someone’s behalf- You can complain for someone else if you:

  • Have their consent to complain – we may require this in writing
  • Are a parent, guardian or main carer of a child and your child is not mature enough to understand how to complain
  • Have a welfare power of attorney or a welfare guardianship order for someone who cannot make decisions for themselves, and the order specifies that you have the power to make a complaint about healthcare
  • Are a relative of, or had a relationship with, a patient who has died and you are concerned about how they were treated before they died; or are acting as an advocate for the patient
    Complaints about private treatment

We follow the same complaints procedure for complaints about private treatment. However, if you require help to make your complaint, or if you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, the Dental Complaints Service (a department of the General Dental Council) offers a complaints resolution service for private dental patients and dentists (see Contacts below).

If you change your mind after making a complaint

You can change your mind about making a complaint at any time. Please let us know as soon as possible. It would be helpful if you could write or e-mail and tell us, but otherwise a phone call will do.

Help with your complaint
Patient Advice and Support Service

If you would like to speak to someone for independent advice about your rights and responsibilities when using NHS services, including help to make a complaint, please contact your local Patient Advice and Support Service which is available through your local Citizens Advice Scotland bureau (CAS). To find your local CAS office, go to and enter your postcode.


If you want someone to help you express your views, you can ask for an advocate. An advocate is independent of the NHS and can help make sure your views are heard and get access to the information you need to make your own decisions. The Feedback and Complaints Officer at Lothian Health Board can tell you more about advocacy services available.

Mediation (also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution):

  • Mediation means bringing people together to resolve a complaint;
  • An independent mediator will try to help you and us to agree what should happen if we cannot settle the complaint ourselves;
  • Mediation can only be used if we both agree to it.

Information about mediation

  • The Feedback and Complaints Officer at Lothian Health Board can tell you more about mediation services.

If you are not happy with our response to your complaint
If you are still not happy with our response, or if you are not happy with the way we are dealing with your complaint, e.g. if you think we are taking too long, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider your complaint further.

The SPSO is the final stage for complaints about public services in Scotland. This includes complaints about the NHS in Scotland. If you remain dissatisfied with an NHS Board or service provider (e.g. a dental practice) after its complaints process has concluded, you can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint.

The SPSO cannot normally look at:

  • A complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure, so please make sure it has done so before contacting SPSO
  • Complaints about events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago
  • Matters that have been or are being considered in court


Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)

Bridgeside House
99 McDonald Road


Tel.: 0800 377 7330

Open from 9.00am – 5.00pm (Mon – Fri), from 10.00am – 5.00pm (Tues)

Feedback and Complaints Manager: Patient Experience Team NHS Lothian
Waverley Gate
2-4 Waterloo Place
tel: 0131 536 3370

NHS Inform
Helpline 0800 22 44 88 (textphone 18001 0800 22 44 88);

Patient Advice and Support Service – available via Citizens Advice Scotland.


Dental Complaints Service
Stephenson House
2 Cherry Orchard Road

Tel.: 08456 120 540 at local rate (Mon-Fri, 9.00am – 5.00pm)