Dental Protection and British Dental Association have called for a crackdown on no-win-no-fee lawyers targeting the profession, as newly-reported figures from Dental Protection show that dentists are now twice as likely to be sued than a decade ago.
The industry is also seeing a stark rise in the number of claims being made in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, like gum disease or other teeth infection, as these cases tend to lead to substantially higher payouts - particularly in cases dating back decades.
Care Quality Commission reports continue to demonstrate that dental patients are at lower risk than those seen by any other UK health provider. The BDA states that a failure to tackle these US-style 'ambulance chasers' is now putting health services under strain.
Indemnity costs for dentists have skyrocketed by over 400% in the last decade while earnings have fallen by nearly 35% in real terms as the cost of regulatory compliance also soared..
The Centre for Policy Studies recently warned that the cost of claims in the UK is likely to increase substantially after the drop in the discount rate from 2.5% to -0.75% announced in February this year.
Their report found that the medical-legal bill is now £24 per person, more than twice the £9 per person in the United States, despite the country’s more litigious reputation.
BDA chair Mick Armstrong said:
"Every official report over the past decade shows our patients are receiving low risk, high-quality care. All that's changed are the hyper-aggressive tactics of these ambulance chasers.
"Dentists are already feeling the squeeze on declining pay and skyrocketing expenses. Our patients do not expect to see funds desperately needed for investment lining the pockets of veracious no-win no-fee lawyers."
Figures from Dental Protection show:
- 90% of dental members are increasingly fearful of being sued
- 80% of dental members found the fear of being sued has impacted on their confidence in how they deal with patients
- 78% felt the fear of being sued has caused them stress or anxiety
68% of dental members felt the fear of being sued has made them consider their future in the profession.
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said:
"We know that working in an increasingly litigious environment day in and day out is challenging, and is taking its toll on dentists when they are striving to provide the best possible service and care to their patients.
“We know that a package of legal reforms to help tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence, and the challenging claims environment for dentists, is long overdue. We are calling on the Government to take urgent action.”
Image credit: Matthew Fearn/PA Telegraph