Patients satisfied with dental care, survey finds

A new survey of more than 1,600 patients and members of the public has revealed that 96% of those who visit the dentist once a year are satisfied with the dental care or treatment that they receive.

The research, which was commissioned by the General Dental Council (GDC) and undertaken by independent research company Ipsos Mori, provides an insight into patients’ views on their dental care and the regulation of dentistry.

The survey reveals that confidence in regulation and overall satisfaction with dental care is high, though patients are less confident that poor treatment and care is dealt with effectively.

Patients were asked about whether dental professionals were treating them in line with some of the standards that appear in the Standards for the Dental Team. More than three in four patients (78%) said that their dental professional gave them enough information about treatment options during their last visit.

However, focus groups carried out as part of the research revealed that some patients felt they didn’t have a good understanding of dental treatments, which made it difficult to judge the quality.

Only 41% agreed that there had been a simple price list on display and only 34% agreed that there had been information stating that dental professionals were regulated by the GDC on display.

Almost nine out of 10 members of the public (86%) believe that dentists are professionally regulated; two thirds believe that regulation of dental professionals is very important and nearly eight out of 10 (77%) are confident that the GDC regulates dental professionals effectively.

However, there was less certainty about whether appropriate action would be taken by a regulator to tackle poor care or serious wrongdoing. Thirty-nine per cent of people said they are not confident that appropriate action would be taken to deal with patients being overcharged for their dental treatment, or poor dental care being delivered to residents in a care home (40%) or disabled patients (38%).

Tim Whitaker, director of Policy & Communications at the GDC, said: ‘The findings of this research will help to inform and influence our work in protecting patients. We take very seriously the concerns of patients who feel that appropriate action will not be taken when things go wrong. The GDC takes all complaints of poor standards very seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with any dental professional who is not putting patients’ interests first.’

The 2013 GDC Annual Patient and Public Survey can be read in full on the GDC website.

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