Dentists Misleading NHS Patients, Report Finds
|Dentists are charging potential NHS patients too much, research has found.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found that about 500,000 patients a year could be getting the wrong information from their dentist about whether they qualify for NHS treatment.
Patients may then end up paying more for private treatment.
The OFT said the industry needs an overhaul.
At present, only a "small volume" of new NHS contracts is put out to tender next year and the contracts are not time-limited, making it hard for NHS dentists to start up and expand.
The OFT report, out today, said it was too "complex" for patients to complain about their dentist, and they were prevented from seeing other oral health specialists without a referral from a dentist.
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Recommendations provided in the report included that information should be "timely, clear and accurate" and patients should be able to make direct appointments with dental hygienists, dental therapists and clinical dental technicians.
The British Dental Association has already agreed to develop a code of practice covering the sale of dental payment plans, to make sure patients do not feel pressurised.
John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive said: "All too often patients lack access to the information they need, for example when choosing a dentist or when getting dental treatment. We also unearthed evidence that some patients may be receiving deliberately inaccurate information about their entitlement to NHS dental treatment, and we expect to see robust action taken against such potential misconduct by dentists."
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