AnxietyDentists across both NHS and private dentistry are anxious about complaints and litigation according to the results of the 2018 NHS Confidence Monitor survey conducted by Practice Plan.

Sixty-three per cent of NHS dentists feel very anxious about the risk of complaints.

This is more than double the 26% of private dentists that claim to feel that way.

‘These results reflect a country that is now a toxic environment for dentists,’ Stephen Hudson, private dentist and author of The Dentist’s Survival Guide, said.

‘Those in the NHS need to convert where they can.

‘Those who are private need to realise they should be selecting patients based on their ability to establish rapport.

‘Patients generally don’t sue dentists they like and respect!

‘One GDC case can potentially end your career.’

Meeting GDC standards

According to the survey, less than a quarter (20%) of NHS dentists feel they are able to meet the standards set by the GDC.

That compares to almost half (49%) of private dentists.

‘Anxiety levels are greatly reduced in those practising private dentistry,’ Simon Thackeray, private dentist, said.

‘Within private practice, there is generally far more time available to engage and discuss matters with patients.

‘Consent is a more straightforward process, and explanations can be more detailed allowing the patient to understand their problem.

‘In addition, my experience is that these types of patients do tend to value their professional advisers more appropriately.

‘It’s far easier to develop a good rapport with them.

‘You often don’t value something that you don’t pay for.’

Dental fear

Nine out of 10 (89%) dentists fear patients suing them, figures from Dental Protection show.

Of those, 74% feel that this fear is impacting on the way they practise dentistry.

Those that fear patients suing them, 64% have made more referrals as a result.

‘Dentists work in an increasingly challenging environment,’ Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection, said.

‘It is worrying that three out of four full-time general dental practitioners fear patients suing them.

‘Understandably this will undoubtedly impact on the way they practise and add to already high stress levels.

‘Without proper consent and comprehensive, well-organised records, a dentist is disadvantaged in defending any allegations.

‘Inadequate clinical records will make the case less defensible and often compromise the final outcome.’


If you would like to have your say on working within dentistry, the 2019 survey is now just five days away from launching.

The NHS Confidence Monitor survey has evolved and grown into the Dentistry Confidence Monitor survey, taking a wider view of the dental market and the challenges faced by those working in NHS and private dentistry.

It includes questions on the GDC, recruitment and mental health, along with the potential impact of the reformed NHS contract.

Visit dentistry.co.uk to take part from 1 April to add your voice to the debate.