- Published: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 07:36
- Written by News Editor
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The Office of Fair Trading has launched a new campaign to help patients understand more about their rights when visiting the dentist. The 'Right to Smile' campaign, which is supported by the British Dental Association, private dentistry providers and a number of consumer groups, has been launched to help patients make informed decisions, understand more about their entitlements to NHS treatment, and know what their options are if things go wrong.
An OFT study published earlier this year found that while the majority of patients are satisfied with their dentist, they do not always have the information to allow them to make informed decisions about their choice of dentist and treatments. A survey carried out as part of the OFT study also found that some patients might be getting the wrong information about their entitlements to NHS treatment and be paying higher prices for private treatment as a result.
The OFT is advising that if patients have an NHS dentist:
- They are entitled to a wide range of treatment that they need to get their mouth, teeth and gums as healthy and pain free as possible.
- If their NHS dentist says they need a particular type of treatment, they shouldn't be required to pay for it privately. Private options may be discussed, such as cosmetic alternatives or specialist treatments like dental implants, it's theirr choice whether they take them.
- Even if their treatment involves a number of visits, they will only pay one charge for each complete course of NHS treatment, unless they've had to make an emergency visit to the dentist first.
- Should NHS treatment fail within 12 months, theirr dentist should repair or redo most treatment free of charge, unless they were advised the treatment was unlikely to be a long-term solution.
The advice tells patients to look for details on NHS dental charges in England at www.nhs.uk.
The advice continues by saying that if patients opt for private dental treatment they should ask what guarantees their dentist provides.
It continues: ‘Regardless of whether you have an NHS dentist or a private dentist you should receive a written treatment plan which includes the cost of any treatment your dentist has discussed with you, so you know in advance how much you'll be expected to pay.’
As part of the campaign the OFT has released a new film, available on its website and YouTube channel, and has produced an information leaflet.
Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Officer for England, said: 'Giving patients good information is key to a high quality service. We are delighted to support the Office of Fair Trading's campaign. An extra one million new patients have visited an NHS dentist since 2010 and we are committed to improving access to dentistry further. This material will help patients make informed choices about their dental care.'
Health Minister Lord Howe said: 'It is great to hear that the majority of patients are happy with their dental care but we know more can be done so that everyone can enjoy better oral health. It is right that patients know exactly what they can expect when they visit the dentist.'
The OFT's campaign has the support of the British Dental Association. Dr Martin Fallowfield, the Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said:
“As the OFT acknowledges, and research by the BDA and other organisations confirms, patients’ satisfaction with dental care in the UK is very high. Effective communication between dentists and patients is vital in improving oral health and the BDA is pleased to lend its support to this campaign which seeks to ensure patients have a full understanding of what to expect when receiving dental care.”
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