A new independent service which offers dental patients a chance to resolve complaints about their dental treatment in a fair and timely manner has been launched in Dublin.
The new Dental Complaints Resolution Service will offer patients and dentists an opportunity to settle their differences with the help of an experienced mediator. The Service will be free of charge.
The first Mediator of the new Service, which will be based in Castlebar in Co. Mayo, is Michael Kilcoyne, Chairman of the Consumers Association.
The IDA estimates that it receives about 300 complaints per annum from patients. While operating independently, the free Service is backed by the Association.
The Service is intended to deal with most complaints about dental care and treatment in the Republic of Ireland, covering such areas as treatment standards, diagnosis, communications, professional etiquette and fees.
Treatments provided under a third party scheme such as the Medical Card, PRSI Scheme or insurance based schemes are excluded from it, as are allegations of criminal activity.
Michael Kilcoyne said the setting up of a new, free and accessible service was a timely initiative which would offer patients a valuable alternative to existing structures.
“Up to now patients have been left with little option but to either proceed through time consuming and expensive complaints mechanisms with the Dental Council or indeed the Civil Courts. Equally dentists have not had the benefit of a system which can address genuine concerns as they arise as well as offering invaluable feedback. I believe what is proposed offers a win-win for both patients and the dental profession and I hope we see the type of success which similar schemes have enjoyed in Britain, Australia and New Zealand” Kilcoyne said.
The President of the Irish Dental Association, Dr Conor McAlister said the setting up of the new Service was a key part of dentists’ overall commitment to the provision of accessible, safe and high quality dental services for patients.
“At a time when the State is continuing to slash funding for the Medical Card and the PRSI schemes it is more important than ever for the IDA to promote progressive policies. Last year it was the display of professional fees, this year it is a complaint resolution service. The objective is the same – to enhance confidence in the quality of care and treatment provided by Irish dentists” McAlister said.
Patients can access further information about the Dental Complaints Resolution Service at a new website www.dentalcomplaints.ie while an information booklet which outlines the key points in a question and answer format has also been published.