Rupert Hoppenbrouwers has claimed the dento-legal climate is worsening with rising expectations from patients.
The head of the DDU explained at the Westminster Health Forum recently how the current worsening dento-legal climate is having an effect on indemnity fees.
‘Complaints to the GDC have increased by 110% since 2011 and we are also seeing clinical negligence claims inflation rising at 10% per year,’ said Rupert.
‘While dental claims are traditionally seen as low value, this is no longer the case and our highest amount paid out in compensation to an injured patient in the last five years, together with the patient’s legal costs, was over £240,000.
‘This trend is not due to a fall in dental standards, which remain high.’
Increase in complaints
The DDU has categorised the four main factors for an increase in complaints:
- Patient complaints being misdirected – for example patients often complain to the General Dental Council (GDC), without first making a complaint to the dental professional
- The GDC is currently unable to filter out the less serious complaints from those that could raise more serious issues
- The availability of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements for clinical negligence claims
- The increasing number of cosmetic procedures being carried out, which may be expensive for the patient and come with higher patient expectations.
‘There are some potential remedies on the horizon however, such as more emphasis being placed on resolving complaints locally and more information being made available for patients as to where to best direct their complaints,’ Rupert Hoppenbrouwers continued.
‘In addition, we have been active in raising the need for the necessary reforms to be made to improve the GDC’s fitness to practise procedures and we are hopeful this will be achieved.
‘There have already been legal reforms to make the fees claimant’s lawyers can charge in personal injury cases more proportionate to the damages received by the patient, and further proposals to cap fees have just been announced.’