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How to make a complaint or get a refund

If you’ve had dental care, services or treatment and want to make a complaint or ask for a refund, this step-by-step guide explains how.

Step 1: Raise it with the dental practice

Speak to your dental practice or the dental professional who provided your care. They will have a complaints process.

You can make an informal complaint or you can ask for their formal complaints procedure and follow it. All NHS and private dental practices must have a formal complaints procedure. If you can, address your complaint to the dental professional who treated you.

The practice can offer an apology and may offer a refund or agree to put things right. You should go to the next step if you would rather not raise your complaint with the practice, dental professional or other dental service provider.

Step 2: Go to the NHS or the Dental Complaints Service

If you were not able to resolve the problem with your dental practice, or want advice, contact the NHS (HSC in Northern Ireland) if you had NHS treatment, or the Dental Complaints Service if you had private dental services.  

Lots of practices do both NHS and private services, and your dental practice or surgery can tell which type you received.  

NHS services

For NHS services contact NHS dental complaints (Health Service Complaints in Northern Ireland). They may offer a full or part refund or to put things right. You may need to raise the issue with the NHS dental service commissioners at the integrated care board if you live in England or the local health board or trust if you live elsewhere in the UK. 

For support or more information about how to complain about NHS services, contact:

They may refer you to the ombudsman if your complaint has already been handled by your practice or provider.  

Private treatment

For private treatment contact the Dental Complaints Service. They can help you resolve the issue and support discussions which may lead to an offer to refund or provide remedial treatment.

If you had private treatment through a dental plan, you should contact your plan provider, as they will have a complaints process.

Step 3: Contact the ombudsman or a solicitor

If you are still not satisfied, and you had NHS treatment (HSC in Northern Ireland), contact the ombudsman where you live:

The Ombudsman makes the final decision on complaints that have not been resolved by the dental practice, provider or NHS.

If you had private treatment, you will need to find a solicitor or contact Citizens Advice for legal advice.

Organisations that can support you

You may want to get independent patient advice and support before deciding what action to take:

Report a public protection issue to the GDC

Our role as a regulator is to protect the public. 

We investigate public protection issues or concerns about the clinical practice, behaviour or health of dental professionals. We take action to protect the public if a dental professional poses a risk to public safety or confidence in the professions we regulate.  

We cannot resolve individual complaints or help with refunds. 

If you have serious concerns about a dental professional, and want to see improvements for the people or patients who come after you, report it to us. 

How to report a public protection issue to the GDC