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Govt 'only interested' in how many patients are treated

Dr Tony Kilcoyne said the Government valued root canal treatment the same way it would a simple filling procedure. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

There is "a massive frustration" among UK dentistry as the Government and NHS focus on getting "bodies" through the door, a dentist told Daybreak.

Private dentist Dr Tony Kilcoyne said patients were suffering because dentists were too busy trying to meet targets, when they should have been focusing on the best healthcare options.

"The problem on NHS dentistry is the targets are based on volume. The Government, who have made the system, and imposed the system upon dental teams are only interested in once thing - how many bodies you can get through that dental surgery.

"Now good dentistry takes time to do. Dentists and their team need protected time to do what is a very advanced procedure...on anxious patients who need more time to be relaxed."

'93% of dentists' would give different treatment

The overwhelming majority of dentists said they have ended an appointment feeling they could give the patient better care if they did not have to meet NHS targets.

In an exclusive poll for Daybreak, the GDPUK found:

  • At least 93% have felt they could have given a patient better treatment after an appointment but were unable to due to limitations imposed by the NHS system in England.
  • A further 55% felt after an appointment they could have carried out more thorough checks but were limitations imposed by the NHS system in England prevented them from doing so.
  • 96% think pressure to meet NHS targets in England compromises the level of care given to patients.
  • 93% of respondents say they worry about not meeting targets set by NHS England.


NHS target system for dentists blamed for poor care

Targets dentists have to reach in order to gain funding have been blamed for poor patient care by healthcare professionals, a survey has revealed.

Dentists have given patients drastic but cheaper treatment to meet targets, the poll found. Credit: PA

At least 92% of the 343 dentists who took part in an exclusive Daybreak survey admitted removing a tooth when other treatments could have saved it.

Currently, a dentists' funding is related to the units of dental activity (UDA) they produce.

Dentists get the same UDAs for complex treatments, like root canal treatments, as for providing extraction, so there is little incentive to carry out more complex and time-consuming treatment, they argue.

Campaign to help patients understand NHS entitlements

The Office of Fair Trading has launched a campaign to help patients understand more about their rights when visiting the dentist.

The 'Right to Smile' campaign has been launched to help patients make informed decisions, understand more about their entitlements to NHS treatment.

Judith Frame, OFT Head of Campaigns, said: "This campaign aims to help patients be clearer about what to expect, and more engaged when making decisions about their choice of dentist and treatments."

Click here for more information:

Dental patients 'missing out on NHS treatment'

The OFT has estimated that approximately 500,000 patients a year may be told incorrectly that they are not entitled to NHS treatment and are liable to pay private charges for their treatment.

It was also reported that 20% of patients who joined a dental payment plan to pay for private dental treatment felt that they were put under pressure by their dentist to do so.

The OFT survey also found that;

  • 39% reported that NHS prices were not displayed.
  • 56% reported that private charges were not displayed in practices that provide some private dental work.
  • 82% of patients who received treatment which they had to pay for did not receive a written treatment plan.

Why have dentists been examined?

The The Office of Fair Trading launched a study into NHS and private dentistry in September 2011. These issues included:

  • Concerns about the accuracy of pricing and treatment information provided to patients, potentially causing them unnecessary costs.
  • The high number of dentistry complaints reported to Consumer Direct (a consumer feedback service operated by the OFT).
  • Concerns about patients not being able to access dental services directly (such as seeing a dental hygienist), and instead having to access services through their dentist first, incurring additional charges by doing so
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