The number of new enquiries against dentists being dealt with by West law firm Withy King has doubled in the last 12 months.
The firm, which has specialist dental negligence teams based in Bath and Swindon, now handles up to 40 new enquiries every month from disgruntled patients who have experienced problems as a result of sub-standard dental treatment. Many of these enquiries will lead to claims against individual dentists or hospital trusts.
Dr Chris Evans, a dentist-turned-solicitor based in Withy King’s dental negligence team, said: “There are many possible reasons for the steady rise in the number of complaints and claims being made against dentists and dental practices. On the one hand, patients are more aware of their rights and less likely to put up with poor dental treatment. Complaints aren’t always dealt with effectively at an early stage when there are still opportunities to put things right and overall, complaints and claims are better reported and recorded than ever before.
“However, there is also a genuine sense that there is more sub-standard dentistry taking place, with some dental professionals calling for a complete overhaul of NHS dentistry in England and Wales. Claims are by no means limited to the NHS but this is where the majority of our cases come from.
“If patients have any concerns about the dental treatment they have received, whether private or on the NHS, they should discuss them with their dentist in the first instance. If their concerns aren’t addressed and problems persist, they should ask for advice from a solicitor who specialises in dental negligence.”
Withy King’s increased case load reflects the overall rise in dental claims and complaints across the UK.
The DDU, the specialist division of the Medical Defence Union, recently reported a 32 per cent increase in dental claims files being opened in 2012 and a 12.5 per cent increase in dental advisory cases which are mostly linked to complaints.
The General Dental Council (GDC) last year reported a 44 per cent increase in new cases received during 2012/13.