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Published on September 19, 2011

OFT launch review of dental industry

Last week, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) began a market research study on whether the private and NHS dentistry markets are working well for patients. The review has been commissioned as there have been increasing concerns amongst consumer bodies such as Which?, due to patients becoming confused by treatments and prices.

Sonya Branch, OFT senior director for services, infrastructure and public markets, comments: ‘Patients appear to be confused about the prices they are being charged and concerns have been raised that they may not be getting sufficient information or adequate choice over the dental treatments they receive.

‘We also note that the costs of private dental treatment in England are among the highest in Europe. Given the current strains on people’s finances, we think it is a good time to examine whether competition is working effectively to drive up the quality of private and NHS dental services and deliver better value for money for consumers.’

The OFT have observed the current climate of the industry and will focus on the following:

  • How dentistry services are sold and explained to patients
  • The types of treatments on offer and price variations
  • Whether it is easy to change dentists
  • Whether patients are given appropriate information to help them make informed choices in regards to dental practices

Dr John Milne, chair of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee also supports the review, particularly due to the NHS reforms and contract trials currently taking place. He comments that patient-dentist communication is of high importance and the OFT’s 2003 review reminded the industry of this.

The OFT will work with the General Dental Council, the Department of Health, the Care Quality Commission and others during the course of its study. It will also seek representations from dentistry providers and trade bodies. Parties interested in contributing can contact the OFT at dentistry@oft.gsi.gov.uk.

For further information on the study, http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2011/99-11

 

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