NHS Dental- a complete dental solution and guidence
It is no more a secret that a section of UK dentists does not care to spell out the treatment a patient needs nor do they explain the cost. You can forget them giving details of the NHS and private options to sort out a dental issue either.
The PHSO (Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman) is responsible to investigate complaints about unfair medical treatment or poor service from government departments and other public organizations, as well as the NHS in England.
The PHSO enquired into 589 dental cases from September 2012 to September 2014. This provided a fine insight into the state of affairs at the ground level.
The salient features that were thus uncovered include the following –
- The present system is equally confusing for both dentists and patients. The confusion often leads to incorrect charging.The patients too often fail correctly understand the applied charges.
- In many cases, dentists fall short of sharing and communicating treatment plans clearly to patients including treatment options and the respective charges.
- Even a section of the patients is unaware of the fact that they are entitled to exemption from charges. They also fail to understand it is no one but their responsibility to complete the form correctly.
Considering these facts, a renowned dentist offering NHS treatments emphasizes clear and effective communication with patients.
Understanding the way NHS dental treatment cost in England works
When an NHS patient visits a dentist it is the latter’s responsibility to provide the patient with all the necessary treatment so that the patient’s teeth, gums, and overall mouth is healthy and free from pain.
As far as the NHS treatment in England is concerned there exist three standard bands of cost.
- Band 1 £18.50 – the cost covers an examination, diagnosis as well as advice. Necessary x rays, a scale, polish, and further planning for the treatment are also included in it if those are relevant.
- Band 2 £50.50 – it covers everything that is covered by Band 1 along with additional treatments like root canal treatment, fillings, tooth extracting, and non-surgical gum work.
- Band 3 £219 – the cost covers everything that is covered in both Band 1 and 2 and in addition to that complex dental procedure like bridges, crowns, and dentures.
A patient, who needs treatment, should not be expected to pay privately. However, the dentist can explain the private options that are suitable for the patient to consider.
Dentists are not supposed to refuse a treatment that is available on the NHS and then offer it privately.
Even if a patient visits a dentist several times, there must only be one charge for a single course of treatment.
Suppose a diseased tooth is repaired as a part of the NHS treatment and if this repair requires correction or be replaced within 12 months, the dentist cannot charge another NHS fee as long as the further work is the same as the initial treatment procedure.
Furthermore, certain groups of people are entitled to get free dental care. These groups include the following –
- Youngsters under 18
- Youngsters under 19 and involved in education full time
- Pregnant women
- People qualified for certain income-related benefits
However, the responsibility of correctly filling in forms that facilitate exemption from charges rests only on patients.
Mistakes Committed by Dentists
In many cases, discrepancy crops up because the dentist fails miserably communicating clear treatment plans with patients that explain the dental charges involved.
Now here is a real-life incident to bolster the point above.
A patient’s story
Mrs. A underwent an NHS root canal treatment at a certain dental practice. During the treatment, she opted for composite white filling privately.
After experiencing certain problems with that tooth she returned to the practice a few months after. This time she paid an NHS dental charge to have the tooth filled and then extracted.
She complained the dental practice did not fully discuss her treatment options before starting the root canal.
Moreover, she felt the practice should not have charged her the second time because the problem cropped from the root canal treatment that was carried out initially.
Private treatment is not covered by the 12-month guarantee. Moreover, the follow-up treatment was different from the earlier one. Thus the patient’s argument was not acceptable that she should have been treated free the second time.
However, the rules are pretty clear to avoid rising such incidents. In no circumstance, a dentist should perform a mixture of NHS and private treatment to the same tooth during a single treatment course.
These were not all. Furthermore, it was implied in lack of any evidence that the oral health practice went by the rulebook and discussed her private treatment options in the first place, nor did it obtain her consent for the treatment on the relevant form before giving her the treatment.
On these grounds, the practice was liable to reimburse the patient for the cost of the private treatment.
This is a clear incident of how confused some dental practices are about charging correctly for treatments and furthermore they miss out on chances of taking remedial steps to correct the mistakes.
Confusion of patients
Now on the other hand let us understand how confused patients are too in some cases.
In this case, the patient did not understand that they have to pay for two NHS dental charges because they thought it was a single course of treatment.
Mr. A’s story
Mr. A had four of his front tooth extracted. His dentist immediately fitted a temporary denture. At a later appointment, the patient was told the gums would shrink and in that circumstance, he has to pay for a replacement denture.
The patient was obviously dissatisfied. He felt he was being extorted twice for a single treatment course. However, according to the rules these two – tooth extraction followed by fitting of immediate denture and provision of permanent denture –are counted as two distinct and separate treatment courses and not one.
In that case, the practice did not do anything wrong. Considering all these issues and confusions a renowned London dentist emphasizes strong and clear communication between patients and oral health practitioners.
Only clear and proper communication between the two parties can avoid arising such problems.