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19th March 2014

Could Do Better?

young girl in the dental clinicThe GDC have published the results of their regular survey of public opinion regarding dentistry and the regulation of the profession.   Core questions include confidence in regulation, along with -

  • Awareness and understanding of dental regulation and the GDC,
  • Satisfaction with dental care
  • Making a complaint

The survey also includes findings about:

  • How do patients choose a dental practice
  • Confidence in regulators dealing with poor care or wrongdoing
  • Dental patients as consumers
  • The new standards for dental professionals

The full results can be found on the GDC website, but I`ll just pick out a few of the statistics which stood out for me.  First, was the figure for regular attendance - with 66% of respondents having attended in the last year and 78% saying they attend regularly.  This seems to be an increase in regular attendees over the last few years.  However, this still leaves over 20% of the population rarely entering our doors.  That`s a whole lot of missed opportunities for care and in business terms it is a big untapped market.

NHS or Private

Next, 72% received their care fully within the NHS and 20% fully privately, with a few having received a mixture of care.  Compared to 2011, when 76%  were fully NHS and 18% were fully private, there is a slight drift away from state care to the private sector.  As we are reassured that NHS services are available to all who want it, I would wonder why people are choosing to pay for their care.  Patients accepted for treatment under NHS terms of service should be offered every treatment required for oral fitness under those terms.  Is the increase because they are being told that some treatments are not available within the NHS or because they perceive that they can buy better quality of care?

How did we do?

There is also really good news in the following table, when regular attenders were asked how satisfied they were with their care, the answer was –
Very satisfied          61%
Fairly satisfied        35%
Fairly dissatisfied     2%
Very dissatisfied       1%
Don’t know                  *
So, according to this we are doing something right!

The small number of patients who were dissatisfied, gave the following reasons –
The dental professional provided poor quality treatment       50%
The cost of my dental treatment was unreasonable            27%
The dental professional had poor communication skills       23%

Although this represented only 3% of patients, it does give an idea of the direction that we should be aiming with self-improvement and CPD.  All three of these areas can be improved with simple training and learning.

Overall, I think this is a good school report.  Only 4% of people surveyed had made a formal complaint about their dentist and it just goes to show you can never please all the people all of the time.  So folks, well done!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

John Shapter

Dental Specialist

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