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NHS patients Ripped Off by Dentists

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An undercover investigation by Channel 4′s dispatches has revealed that NHS patients are being ripped off by dentists under the banding payment system. The current three tier system means that patients should not pay more than £204 for complex treatment that is necessary to keep the mouth healthy. Patients who require one, should also be offered a scale and polish under the lowest price band. Department of Health guidelines state that, “If your dentist says that you need a particular type of treatment, you should not be asked to pay for it privately.”

During the investigation however, a patient who required root canal work and a new crown was misquoted by three different dentists. He should have paid £198 under band 3 but quotes ranged from £400-£725. Additionally, seven more patients who needed a scale and polish were not offered one, and some were told they’d need to see a private hygienist at an additional cost.

The current ‘payment by procedure’ system, introduced by labour in 2006, has proved unpopular with dentists who wrongly charge for extra treatments, a trick known as ‘gaming’.

Danny Pretorius, who stopped doing NHS work last year, told the programme: “If you had to do everything by the book like you should do, it would be virtually impossible to earn a reasonable living.”

Last December, the current government announced it was to replace the ‘payment by procedure’ system with a ‘payment by patient’ system. A Department of Health spokesman explained the government plans to, “pay dentists for the number of patients registered and the quality of the care they provide, rather than the number of treatments carried out.”

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