Shock survey on dentistry

PATIENTS are refusing dental treatment due to high costs or even undertaking DIY surgery, according to a shocking new findings published today.The Dentistry Watch survey, the largest ever carried out, asked 5,212 patients and 750 dentists for their views on today's service.

PATIENTS are refusing dental treatment due to high costs or even undertaking DIY surgery, according to a shocking new findings published today.

The Dentistry Watch survey, the largest ever carried out, asked 5,212 patients and 750 dentists for their views on today's service.

The survey was undertaken to assess the true state of the NHS dental system nationally and within East Anglia, and included patients and dentists in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

In East Anglia the findings revealed:

n 74 per cent of those going private left the NHS because either their dentist stopped treating health service patients, or because they could not find an NHS dentist. Only 17 pcclaimed it was because they believed they got better standards.

n Almost 50pc seeking treatment didn't understand dental charges.

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n Just over 17pc of people had gone without work because of the cost.

n Around 17pc of those not currently using dental services stated it is because there is not an NHS practitioner near where they live.

n Almost 6pc said they had treated themselves.

However, of those in the east of England who did receive NHS treatment, almost all (94pc) were happy with the work provided.

Of the 92 east of England dentists surveyed, 43.5pc were not accepting any more NHS patients,

51pc believed the quality of care had got worse since the new dental contracts, and 70pc were aware of patients declining treatment because of the cost.

Sharon Grant, chairwoman of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which coordinated the survey, said: “These findings indicate the NHS dental system is letting many patients down very badly.

“It appears many are being forced to go private because they don't want to lose their current trusted and respected practitioner or because they just can't find a local NHS dentist.

“Where NHS dental services are available, people are happy with the quality of treatment provided but many find the national health fee system confusing and expensive, with some patients taking out loans to pay for treatment or more worryingly taking matters into their own hands.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk PCT said they had not yet had an opportunity to study the report, but that the number of dentists offering services on the NHS has increased.

She said the situation was improving and said that anyone who would like help finding an NHS practitioner should call the PCT's Patient Advice and Liaison Service, on 0800 389 6819.

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