OFT calls for major revamp of dentistry market
OFT investigation finds dentists charging for treatment we could get free on the NHS!
Dentists are letting patients down by providing insufficient information and pushing them towards paying for treatments they could get free on the NHS.
That’s the findings of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which has demanded a significant revamp of the market to ensure we are all in a position to make more informed decisions about our dental care.
Working in our best interests
A market study by the OFT found that patients are often provided with insufficient information to make informed decisions about which dentist to choose and which treatments are right for their circumstances.
What’s more, around 500,000 patients each year are pushed towards paying for private dental treatment, which they could receive for free on the NHS.
The OFT also raised concerns about how difficult it is for patients to access dental care professionals, like hygienists, without getting a referral from a dentist first. This practice restricts patient choice and also limits competition, the body warned.
Changing for the better
The OFT suggested a number of changes that it believes will make things easier for us when looking for dental care.
Clear, accurate information
The General Dental Council and Care Quality Commission need to be proactive in enforcing current rules which oblige dentists and dental practices to provide clear, accurate and timely information about the range of treatments available and exactly how much they will cost.
Direct access to professionals
Ditch restrictions that stop patients from making appointments to see hygienists, dental therapists and dental technicians directly.
Reform NHS dental contract in England
The Department of Health should adjust the dental contract to make it easier for new practices to enter the market and existing ones to expand.
Simplify the complaints process
A new system which is simpler, easier and less time consuming for both patients and dentists is needed.
A robust code of practice covering the sale of dental payment plans is needed. The British Dental Association has already agreed to develop this.
To ensure you don’t pay through the nose for healthy teeth, read Cut the cost of a healthy mouth!
What do you think? What have your recent experiences of the dentistry market been like? Are these changes needed? Let us know in the comment box below.