By JONATHAN FINE
You probably saw the headlines on June16. The Independent went with “Pain at dentist for NHS patients” and the Mail, true to form, put the boot in with “Greedy dentists fleece families”.
The rash of stories came from a Which? report that found
37 per cent of NHS surgeries won’t give an NHS appointment and 36 per cent can’t see people within a fortnight.
The reaction among our clients was anger and disappointment.
One said: “How depressing – when is the media going to talk about why no one should touch NHS dentistry with a barge pole!”
Another highlighted the real tragedy: “The problems we are facing in NHS dentistry lie much deeper than a few “crafty” individuals that are manipulating yet another flawed remuneration scheme.
“The tragedy is unemployed British graduates who can’t get a foundation training post, overseas dentists paid a pittance who can’t even afford to pay their rent/expenses and capped funding that prevents growth of practices to meet demands.
“Most of us are trying our very best to make good a bad situation, but when you pay someone the same amount of money to do one filling as you would to do 10 where is the incentive to do good work?”
The BDA has agreed that the NHS payments schedule, introduced in 2006, is the real obstacle because the ‘arbitrary’ units of dental activity (UDA) targets are tying the hands of dentists.
Until this issue is resolved the reputation of the entire profession is at risk. So how do you protect your practice from the PR fallout? A really good start is a frank discussion of it on your blog or news page. You may have heard the phrase ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’…
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