Dentists Accused of Misleading NHS Patients
An investigation carried out by the Office of Fair Trading has concluded that some dentists could be misleading NHS dental patients by failing to inform them about entitlement to NHS care and therefore encouraging them to opt for private treatment instead.
According to the investigation, around 500,000 patients may have been forced to pay for private treatment last year because they were unaware that they were entitled to the same treatment on the NHS.
The watchdog claims that many patients may have been deliberately misled about NHS treatment so that they would pay for private dental care and some dentists have been accused of not working in the best interests of patients.
The OFT has now called for changes to the dental system and urged dentists to provide patients with more information, so that they are able to make a well-informed decision about their treatment provider. The OFT also highlighted worries concerning access to services such as dental hygiene, with some patients being told that they can only see a hygienist following a recommendation from their dentist.
John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, said that often patients do not have all the relevant information about dental services. He also added that the findings indicate that the current dental contract, which has received widespread criticism, is not working in the best interests of patients.
The OFT also raised concerns about dentists pressurising patients to join payment plans and claimed that the complaints procedure was too long-winded and complex.
The British Dental Association has agreed that changes need to be made and the government is currently working on a new dental contract. However, Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA’s executive board, claimed that the OFT had sensationalised the issue, accusing the watchdog of plumping for a “headline-grabbing approach.”
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