Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board (RDSPB)

Page last updated: 12 May 2022
Organisations we regulate

This group is formed of organisations with a role and responsibility for setting, managing and regulating how dental care is provided in England.

It aims to jointly ensure that patients receive high-quality, safe dental services from professionals and organisations that are competent and meet national standards, and that services improve.

RDSPB membership

Members include:

  • Care Quality Commission
  • Department of Health
  • General Dental Council
  • NHS England.

Its work is supported and underpinned by:

  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Healthwatch England and the local Healthwatch network.

The board’s purpose is to review the approach to dental regulation across England and assess the effectiveness of current arrangements to develop a more streamlined, joined up and effective model of regulation.

Our report, 'Working together, delivering change', looks back at the last three years of work by the board.

Joint statement on the dental complaints system

We have published a joint statement to clarify the roles of national bodies, so that patients receive consistent and clear signposting to the correct route for making a complaint.

About the complaints statement, and how to use it

Why produce a joint statement?

The board has recognised that:

  • The dental complaints system is complex and confusing for patients, providers and regulators – especially given the mixed public/private provision of dental services.
  • Overlaps between organisations bring a lack of clarity, with multiple organisations potentially responsible for different aspects of the same complaint.
  • There is a lack of consistency: different organisations are subject to different timeframes for dealing with complaints, and cover different nations of the UK.
  • Patients who initially approach the ‘wrong’ body may then be lost in the system completely.

In March 2016, the RDSPB held a stakeholder workshop that discussed developing a single public-facing statement on dental complaints, which all our organisations could sign up to. The aim would be to give patients consistent and clear messages about what to do when they have a problem with their dental treatment.

We have produced a joint statement, based on information that stakeholders currently provide about complaints, and incorporated further feedback to reflect its aims and purpose.

What do we mean by ‘complaints’?

The joint statement covers all dental complaints and concerns, from the relatively minor to those that could have implications for a professional’s fitness to practise, and views them as a subset of wider feedback about services – which can be positive or negative. We use ‘complaints’ in its everyday sense, to mean any statement that a service or individual dentist has not met the standard people would expect.

What happens now?

The statement is primarily intended for dental providers, as well as other relevant bodies, to enable them to check that the wording in their own patient-facing materials and processes are compatible with it, so that patients receive consistent and clear signposting wherever they first make an enquiry. Members of the RDSPB are promoting the statement and using it in communications with patients to clarify the roles of national bodies and ensure a shared understanding of the correct route for complaints.

Patients will not necessarily see the statement itself, although it is written with them in mind and we would be very happy for organisations to use the content when communicating with them.

What does the statement not do?

Many stakeholders would like to see wholesale reform of the dental complaints system, including options such as a ‘common front door’ for all complaints. However, large scale reform is unlikely at this stage. The statement is therefore a pragmatic and incremental step towards providing at least ‘no wrong door’. This means that all patients – including those who take their complaint to the ‘wrong’ part of the system initially – will get better and more consistent signposting in the future than they do currently.

Why include a section on finding a dentist?

One of the most frequent complaints people make about dentistry is how to access NHS dental services in the first place. This cannot be addressed by a single surgery, and it’s important that feedback about potential undersupply gets to the right part of the system.