LACK OF DENTIST MONITORING IS LEAVING PATIENTS AT RISK WARN NEGLIGENCE LAWYERS
A leading dental negligence firm is calling for tighter monitoring of the quality of the work of NHS dentists after it discovered that the body responsible for assessing risk to NHS dental patients, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) had examined just 160 dental patients last year (2012-13).
The NHSBSA is a Special Health Authority and an Arms-Length Body of the Department of Health.
It is tasked with providing central services to NHS organisations, contractors, patients and the public. Part of that remit includes visiting and assessing dental practices where potential risk has been identified.
The aim of the NHSBSA is to support Primary Care Organisations monitoring performance of dentists and the care of patients.
However, figures provided by the Dental Law Partnership revealed that during the same 12 month period that the NHSBSA only managed to examine 160 patients, the Dental Law Partnership took on 820 new dental negligence claims.
Latest figures from the General Dental Council show that there are currently 39,258 registered dentists in the UK*, who are responsible for treating NHS patients
Chris Dean, managing director of the Dental Law Partnership, said: “The relatively small number of NHS patients being checked on behalf of the Department is worryingly low. The NHSBSA states that it operates a risk-based monitoring system, so only visits dental centres where concerns have been raised.
“But based on the number of negligence cases that we have taken on over the same period, we feel that the organisation is barely scratching the surface in terms of checking patients around the UK potentially at risk from negligent treatment.
“It’s completely baffling that a team of 11 advisors could only collectively manage to see 160 patients in a year. Especially when you consider that a single typical NHS dentist will examine or treat up to 150 patients a week!
“The figures calls in to question the value of the service being provided by the NHSBSA and raises major concerns about the lack of effort being put into monitoring the performance of dentists.”