The government is urging all dental surgeries to join a price comparison style website in a bid to increase transparency regarding dental fees.
NHS Choices is due to write to all dentists offering them the opportunity to manage their pages on its comparison website amid concerns the sector is falling behind doctors in terms of public scrutiny.
This initiative highlights the government’s belief that greater transparency is key to improved public safety and value for money among services in the public sector.
A department of health spokesman told Dentistry: “Offering people the opportunity to compare dental practices helps them to understand the services the NHS is providing and also helps them to choose the services they wish to use.”
The Dental Defence Union (DDU) also recently warned that greater transparency regarding dental fees is necessary in the industry. It is, after all, at the top of the list of things patients complain about and could result in a loss of custom or bad press if practices do not address the issue.
As many complaints are the result of a breakdown in communication between practice and patient, this is a key factor which must be improved by dental surgeries in order to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
DDU dento-legal adviser, Leo Briggs, said: “Dental fees often feature in complaints reported to us by members. Reasons include that the cost of treatment was higher than expected, or anger about being charged for treatment which had not achieved the desired result.”
However, these issues can be targeted if treatment plans and charges are clearly published in writing – such as in dental welcome packs or via the NHS Choices website.
In addition to listing charges in welcome packs and on NHS Choices, prices should be written clearly on a practice’s own website. It is also important that surgeries state whether they accept NHS patients or not, the DDU states.