Dentists who misinform patients regarding treatment options run the risk of having their NHS contract terminated.
UK-wide dental defence organisation MDDUS is reissuing its earlier warning regarding this section of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report on dentistry in light of the recently published government response.
The original OFT report, which came out in May, made recommendations with regards to a number of key areas, including direct access, complaints and the sale of private dental plans.
However, the information offered to patients about the availability of NHS dentistry was highlighted as an area of particular concern.
In fact, the OFT estimate that 500,000 patients each year receive inaccurate advice about their right to receive certain treatments on an NHS basis.
Following the report, MDDUS emphasised the need for dentists to clarify whether charges are private or on the NHS and to ensure patient interests are put first when considering treatment options (link to original article: http://bit.ly/OUOJwI).
MDDUS dental adviser, Doug Hamilton said: ‘MDDUS reminded members that the GDC require all patients to be given an estimate of costs that clarifies whether the treatment is being provided privately.
‘Furthermore, NHS practitioners are contractually obliged to provide accurate information to their patients as to the availability and quality of NHS treatment.
‘This advice by MDDUS has proved prescient now that the concerns regarding patient misinformation have been singled out by the UK government in its response to the OFT report.’
The government response endorses the OFT’s recommendation that PCTs, the GDC and the CQC take a more pro-active approach to ensuring that private and NHS dentists provide their patients with transparent and accurate pricing information prior to treatment being commenced.
Doug added: ‘If anything, the government takes an even more aggressive approach, suggesting that the contracts of NHS providers could be terminated if patients have been deliberately misinformed, if NHS charges posters are not on display or if information leaflets are not available,” adds Hamilton.
Although the government paper confines itself to the OFT recommendations as they apply in England, some of the obligations to which it refers are mirrored in devolved legislation. Therefore, MDDUS urges members throughout the UK to familiarise themselves with the applicable regulations.
If in any doubt, seek assistance from your dental defence organisation.