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Business, taken personally.

Dentists failing to explain prices and treatment options

Posted by Lotty Reeves on 22nd April 2015

The majority of dentists in England are failing to provide adequate explanations of prices and treatment options to patients, as indicated in research released by Which.

The consumer group surveyed 1,000 adults who had visited the dentist within the last six months and sent mystery shoppers to 25 dental practices as part of a separate investigation. Secret recordings taken during these visits were then analysed by an expert panel, which included two practice owners with ‘strategic, standard-setting and governance expertise’.

According to the panel, the explanation of prices provided at eight dental practices visited was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. The number of practices where NHS and private treatment options were not explained adequately was even higher, with treatment explanations at 12 practices receiving a rating of ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. In four practices the patient was offered an appointment with a private dental hygienist rather than the NHS services they were entitled to.

Around one in two practices visited were failing to display a price list (a contractual requirement), making it difficult for patients to compare prices of different types of treatment and NHS and private treatment costs, while just eight practices were compliant with the legal requirement to provide patients with a written treatment plan.

The results of the survey of 1,000 adults supported the findings of the mystery shopping exercise. The majority of respondents (80%) said they trusted their dentist to advise them about treatment options. One in five respondents thought they had been overcharged and the same proportion had been incorrectly charged multiple times for the same course of treatment.

Read more about the research at:

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