Dentists’ new rule raises concerns for NHS patients

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Davies and Seeley, Rye’s largest dental practice, has introduced a maximum 18-month time limit between treatments for NHS patients, and is advising that those who fail to comply will “no longer be a patient of the practice”.

On one hand, the decision seems to be aimed at boosting practice revenue by forcing NHS patients to visit the dentist more often; on the other hand, the move appears designed to remove ‘less regular’ patients from the NHS list, forcing them to seek far more expensive private treatment. It’s known that the Covid-19 pandemic substantially reduced dentists’ business nationwide as patients sought to avoid catching the infection.

It’s unclear how D&S will treat NHS patients who contact the practice to make appointments before the 18-month deadline but cannot secure an appointment within the new timeframe. Also, there is no indication when the 18-month limit will apply from. It appears unfair to introduce an 18-mouth limit without giving patients a chance to react to the decision and to accustom themselves to the new arrangement. Moreover, elderly patients with poor mobility, those people temporarily working abroad and those who are immuno-supressed may have difficulty attending the dentist every 18 months.

On its website, D&S points out the importance of visiting the dentist twice a year for checkups, but it fails to list any prices for private or NHS treatments. The practice also fails to reveal the new 18-month limit in the ‘Patient Information’ section of its website, when one could argue that patients urgently need to know about this new policy.

According to website dentalchoices.org using information based on NHS data, the East Street D&S practice is reportedly not taking on new NHS patients — with the nearest dentists doing so located in Hastings. However, this information needs to be confirmed by the Rye practice.

The five-dentist Rye practice no longer lists the original dentists Mr Davies and Mr Seeley among its practitioners, and its website suggests that it is now owned by Dr Mano Soltan, an experienced dentist and tooth implant expert trained in Sweden.

A £30 deposit for appointments with a dental hygienist has also been introduced in a bid to reduce the number of no-shows at the practice.

Which magazine indicated last month that whereas an NHS dental checkup costs £25.80, the fee at major private practice chains varies between £40 and £100. A composite (white) filling costs £70.70 on the NHS but could be between £80 and £120 privately. However, it’s the more complex procedures where private dentistry really makes its money, with crowns potentially three times the NHS price and dentures / bridges sometimes up to four times the price, according to Which.

 

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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1 COMMENT

  1. And private patients at Davies and Seeley have receive this email:

    ‘We are writing to remind you that you are now due for your Routine Dental Examination appointment.To maintain healthy teeth and gums, we would advise you to have regular dental examinations, within 18 months of your last visit with your Dentist , this is very important to prevent dental problems in the future and to keep you as our patient.’

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