Following the findings of Dentistry Watch, a government-backed survey on UK dentistry, leading dental insurance provider DPAS has slammed the state of the NHS.
Dentistry Watch was set up to record the experiences of both patients and dentists within the National Health Service.
DPAS chairman Quentin Skinner told Private Healthcare UK that the survey confirmed high levels of dissatisfaction on all sides.
“What we are seeing is reduced access, perfunctory dental examinations and a new treadmill to replace the old one,“ he said.
The survey revealed that those patients who had an NHS dentist displayed a remarkable amount of patient loyalty and satisfaction with their practice.
“Patients will stay with their own dentist even if it means having to go private,” Mr Skinner commented.
“Interestingly, a minority of patients (40%) feel that NHS dentistry offers good value for money – however, the majority of respondents who paid for private dental plans (57%) felt that this was good value for money. Patients consider private dental plans as ‘a good affordable flexible’ option that allows them to budget for their dentistry.”
Compounding the public perception if NHS dentistry, the survey revealed that just over half the dentists polled believed that their NHS patients get worse quality service than their private patients.
“With specific regards to the new dental contracts, 58% of dentists feel that these have had a negative effect on the quality of care their NHS patients receive – and a significant 84% believe that these have failed in making it easier for patients to get an NHS dental appointment.”
Mr Skinner believes that NHS dentists should be considering leaving the public sector in anticipation of budget slashes in 2009.
“Rather than simply hoping that things cannot get any worse for them under their NHS contract, dentists should be planning their escape route now, well in advance of the end of the ring-fencing of the dental budgets in April 2009. They should take heart from the Dentistry Watch survey findings, which clearly show the satisfaction evident in patients who have had to move from the NHS onto private dental plans, and dismount the NHS treadmill without further ado.”