Tarred by the same brush

A Which? investigation has claimed that over half of dentists fail to carry out basic examinations, spend limited time with patients and provide inappropriate treatment plans.

Given that over 30 million examinations take place each year, what would be a reasonable sample to make such a claim? 2,000? 200? No the number of practices visited was 20, 10 private, 10 NHS.

So, the whole profession is tarred by the Consumers Association on the basis of a pathetically small sample.

Which? told the General Dental Council who, ever keen to run down the profession, said: ‘We’re extremely concerned by any evidence of poor standards in the delivery of dental care.’ Evidence? From 20 practices? That gives a whole new meaning to evidence-based dentistry.

The British Dental Association were also shown the results and the profession might have expected them to expose the shallowness of the evidence. Alas, no.

Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA’s executive board, said: ‘These results highlight the importance of developing NHS dentistry to provide adequate time for diagnosis, analysis of risks and discussion with patients to support preventive care and quality outcomes.’ Whats’s the relevance of that?

Chair of GDPC, John Milne, did acknowledge the size of the sample, he said the survey seemed to show that a small number of practitioners are not living up to expectations. ‘They do themselves, their patients and the profession no favours’, he commented.

He went on to say that the NHS system puts targets before health. He also said it ‘needs to be replaced with one that makes health the target’. Too true, but is it relevant to the private sector?

The Consumers Association has a clear agenda ever since its super-complaint about private dentists 10 years ago. It wants patients to pay less for their dentistry. Fair enough for an organisation that champions the consumer.

But when is the BDA going to champion dentists who face critical press coverage as a result of this rubbish survey?

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