"Dental Practice - poor experience and good advice"

About: Harrow PCT

(as the patient),

Out of principle I decided to remain with the NHS for Dental services and signed upto a new Dental practise offering to take on 'NHS Patients'. NHS patients operate under 3 tariffs depneding on scale of work. Financiually it works best if a dentist tries to do the minimum possible under a tariff

On my first visit I was surpised to find an x-ray was not taken or I was not offered a scrub or clean, but the dentist keen to tell me that one of my teeth would need a crown. A few weeks later I went back with a inflammation due to a 'gap' between the teeth. The dentist pointed to my crown, and carried out a filling to the suspect tooth. The problem did not go away, so I asked a friend round home (who is a dentist). The 'root cause' of the inflammation was a filling required on another adjacent tooth which should have been picked up by the dentist. My friend also pointed out that I had no URGENT need for a crown, and there might be a better way of protecting the tooth without the need for a crown.

On my return to the dentist he again repeated the crown story, however patched up the tooth that was the cause of the problem. He asked for another £45 but I pointed out to him that this should have been covered under my the fee I paid earlier and after a short discussion he agreed that indeed it covered under the NHS fee. Incidentally he also quoted a fee of £400 upwards for a crown, when the standard fee is £185 under the NHS!

Consequences

I have decided not to use this dentist again and am considering my options in terms of a new dentist.

Lessons for NHS

* Its clear that many dentists are motivated primarily by money

* The NHS should hire dentists and create NHS Dentist only centres rather than the current mix of private/NHS on the same premise. Then a patient has true choice..go to the NHS and get 'value service' or go privately for 'superior service'.

Lessons for an NHS Dental patient

* Use your local patient advisory service (PALS) for information on charges and levels of service, and know your rights.

* Find someone who works in dental services you know (say from the family,neighbour or a friend) who can give you some basic advice and 'watch outs' before you make any important decisions.

* Get recommendations before you join/move ...don't be taken in by adverts offering 'NHS treatments'.

* No matter how painful your teeth allow yourself time to think of alternatives before you go ahead with treatment.

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