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Make sure that you are not overcharged for NHS dentistry in the UK Review (ethelsmith)

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Look afer those pearly whites

Pros

Good dental treatment, even if your income is not very good.

Minimises the cost of NHS dental treatment.


Cons

Hard to register with an NHS dentist, due to their unavailability.

Charges are open to abuse


Full Review

NHS, National Health Service, dentistry in the UK has come a long way since it was first introduced many years ago. However, recently, some of these changes have not been for the better. Many people are having to explore the possibility of having private treatment, as NHS dentists become few and far between Some dental practices have grown to big for their own good and are now running a two tier service, with partial privatisation and partial NHS treatment.

All of this has not been good for the client, namely the patient. It is a total minefield, but I am writing this article about one particular aspect of this current situation, that is the NHS charges.


In Closing

Most dental practices have started to display the cost of available treatments, for all to see. This is good practice. Up until a few years ago it was hard to determine if your dentist was charging your correctly or if he or she was over charging you.

With changes to the NHS dental system I have found that my dentist is less available. I have used this practice for around 20 years and at one time, especially if you were experiencing pain, an appointment was guaranteed the same day.

These days that would seem to be the case for the private patients who visit the surgery but not the NHS patients. Yet I imagine this practice benefits from funding through the NHS. Still that is yet another topic.

All of this has meant that my recent dental problems took a year to be sorted out. After one aappointment for the preparation for a dental crown, the dentist told me to book an appointment for the fitting two weeks later. I was given an appointment in 4 months time. Suffice to I made a complaint and the timing slightly improved.

My main gripe though, and what I feel I need to warn other patients about, is the charges.

I had the dental crown fitted and within 3 weeks it had come off. I was lucky that I did not swallow it. Then again if I had perhaps I would have had a new crown anyway.

The dentist refixed the crown and then about 5 weeks later it came off again.

Due to the problem with appointment timings, by the time I had my next appointment, to sort the problem out, it was around 3 months since the dentist had fitted the crown. So having paid the £195 under the NHS treatment plan I was now asked to pay another £195. I was told that, as it was more than 3 months since the crown was fitted I would have to pay agin.

Warming bells rang and I decided to seek advice. Thankfully I knew where to go but maybe you would not?

I contacted the local Family Practitioner. I asked to speak to someone about dental charges and was put through to the dental commissioner. He was most helpful.

Apparently dental work, such as crowns, is guaranteed for a year under the NHS. I was told to tell the dentist that I wanted himto carry on with my care but that I would not be paying any more charges. I was in such a quandary and so, added to the worry of visiting the dentist, I felt extra anxiety.

In the end I simply went to the reception desk, after treatment, and asked to speak to the practice manager. She was unavailable and so I explained what I had been told by the Dental Commissioner. I said that I was not unwilling to pay, but that I had been advised that I should not be charged. The receptionist said that she would make sure that the manager rang me later that day.

Surprise, Surprise.

When she rang, before I could say anything, I had received an apology and was assured that I would have nothing to pay. Of course, I had told the receptionist who I had spoken to at the family practitioner's and given the contact name of his superior.

All of this has left me with mixed feelings. Perhaps it was just an error?.

No. My very admirable gut instinct tells me that the dentist in question was trying it on. He knew I had queried the amount with the receptionist previously and so he made a point of stressing that the charge was because of the three month rule. This was all bunkum.

Advice.

So dear readers my advcie to you is, if you find yourself in a similar situation, check out the facts.

I was worried that my dentist may strike me from his register and that I would have no dentist. As it was the Dental Commissioner told me about a good local pratice that was taking on patients and I hot footed it there.

In the long run this episode did me a favour. I am now with a much better dentist.

Remember that NHS dental treatment now has fixed charge plans depending upon the treatment. I know that is what my old dentist did not like. Maybe then, he was trying it on now and then, in order to ensure that he maintained the earnings which, he had received in the past.

Whatever the reason, such bad practices need stopping and need reporting to the appropraite authorites.


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