Dentists obliged to display fees from 1 June 2011
Under a new Code of Practice recently published by the Dental Council, dentists in general practice must display their fees from 1 June 2011.
The notice must be:
- Up to date (so make sure to keep the list under review).
- At least size A4
- Prominently displayed so that a patient could reasonably be expected to see it before the consultation.
- If the dentist has a website, fees must also be displayed there.
The Code sets out a number of specified treatments for which fees must be displayed. For some of these a single fee must be quoted e.g. for “examination, diagnosis and treatment plan”, a hygienist’s appointment or an x-ray, but for others it is permissible to display a range of fees from the minimum to the maximum e.g. extractions, crowns, dentures and fillings. It is not permitted to only list the minimum fee.
For treatment that is not listed in the Code the dentist is directed to provide an estimate of cost and to obtain the patient’s agreement to this before starting work.
Although the Code deals primarily with the obligation to display fees, there is clearly an emphasis on providing a patient with a treatment plan at the outset. Indeed, the Code expressly states that a written treatment plan should be given to a patient for complex and/or costly procedures over and above the cost estimate.
Failure to observe the Code of Practice could lead to Fitness to Practice proceedings under the Dentists Act 1985.