Dental Protection is disappointed to see that a recent Which?
report on dental treatment and costs oversimplifies a complex and highly individual range of treatment options and undermines the relationship between the patient and their dentist.1
The report revealed that concerns around patient choice and communication remain an issue, two years after they were raised by the Office of Fair Trading. The concerns raised involve a lack of patient access to information and choice when seeking and receiving dental care, and in particular, the need for better communication about treatment options and costs.
Kevin Lewis, Director at Dental Protection, acknowledged that the findings and tone of the article would not be welcomed by the profession, also commenting that the article was significant not for what it said, but what it failed to say.
"I am sure that everyone would agree that patients should not be misled about the cost of their dental care and treatment, and that they should understand whether they are being treated within the NHS, or privately, or perhaps a mix of both.
"Improving communication is the key to avoiding many of the problems that end up at the door of Dental Protection. So it is always disappointing to discover that patients have experienced communication problems like those described in this report. But just as disappointing is the degree to which this report – just like many others that have preceded it – oversimplifies what is a very complex and highly individual range of care and treatment options. It makes for a populist consumer story but it is ultimately unhelpful because it undermines the trust that the overwhelming majority of patients have in their dentist."
Dental Protection believes the report should have also taken into account the selective and misleading information on NHS Choices that suggests an unlimited and unconstrained scope of NHS dentistry. Furthermore, dentistry is one of the few areas in healthcare where the patient pays for treatment at the point of use, which can lead to complaints if the patient does not feel entirely happy with the service.
Mr Lewis added: "General practitioners and their staff are responsible for explaining the complexities of the current three-band system to their patients, as well as dealing with any queries or complaints that result as a consequence. Patients, not surprisingly, find it difficult to understand and accept that you can have less treatment and still be expected to pay the same."
Notes to Editors
1. Which? Briefing: Clean Up Dental Costs