We come across many instances of clients who have had a tooth extracted by their dentist, and later learned that the tooth could have been saved by root canal treatment. Usually root canal treatment has not been offered or the NHS patient has been advised that the treatment is only available privately, some times at a cost of up to £850 when root canal treatment is available through the NHS at a cost of £48. In these circumstances a perfectly restorable tooth can be lost as the patient is unable to afford the private treatment costs.
Research out today suggests that dentists are forcing 500,000 patients a year to pay for expensive private treatments by failing to tell them they are available on the NHS, according to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18233619).
The OFT found that patients are routinely being told to pay private costs for treatment such as crowns, root canal treatment and bridges. They warn that in some cases the high cost of private treatment is preventing patients from seeking the treatment they require.
The report says: “Despite OFT’s estimate that there are as many as 500,000 instances of patients being given inaccurate information by their dentists regarding their entitlement to receive a particular course of dental treatment on the NHS, the GDC (General Dental Council) appears to have a notable and concerning low enforcement track record of pursuing instances of breaches, and so deterring future misconduct.”
John Fingleton, chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading said: “We 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.”
“The impression we have is that, because the focus has been on other aspects of the health and social care system, dentists have been able to get away with unacceptable practice.
Given our experience this report comes as no great surprise. Our medical negligence solicitors can provide free legal advice and advise you on your compensation claim on a no win no fee basis so give us a call if you think we can help you.