This week’s report comes courtesy of the Daily Mail. An article written on Wednesday September 3rd “Deflated charges at the blow-up dental surgery” reports on the introduction of a mobile dental unit, from Hungary, designed to give patients consultations and an insight into how much their dental charges would be if they traveled abroad to have the work.
Before we talk about the inflatable tent we should give special mention to the level of reporting, which, on balance, is exactly as I would expect it to be. The author, Jaya Narain, refers to an x-ray gun and shield never before used in the UK which is, in fact, relatively common place now. (It was first demonstrated to me 3 years ago, when lecturing at Kings, and is used by my good friends at Senova Dental Care). She also refers to a price for general anaesthetic which has not been used in general dental practice in my working life time ( I qualified in 1989 and don’t like to dwell on how long this makes my working life time). I assume she is referring to conscious sedation and this is an important distinction. General anaesthetic (GA) is a hospital based procedure and any costs incurred for in hospital treatment are going to be significantly higher than those in general practice. As ever, the failure to report simple facts correctly does raise question marks over any other claims made in the article.
On the subject of fees I was interested to read the overall costs quoted. As a principle partner of an entirely private multi-discipline specialist center I am always interested in the competition’s prices and I note with interest that the fees quoted for UK are between 25 and 50% higher than our fees for four out of 8 on the list. Either this means I am slowly becoming Hungarian or the reporter has done the usual trick of sampling the very highest UK prices and comparing them (presumably) with the very lowest Hungarian ones. The reference to Harley Street was an interesting one. This address is used in media terms to denote either the very highest of prices and standards or, if the mood dictates, the ultimate in sleaze and deception. The truth is, of course, that it represents neither. It’s reputation within the profession is, at best, mixed. Some good dentists work their and some not so good. The address is proof of nothing other than high rent to pay.
As for the tent and the mobile service. It is a novel idea and clearly represents a good money making business model for those involved in health tourism. I have no knowledge of the standard of service available and the efficacy or ability of the dentists involved (just as I have no knowledge of the other UK dentists working in the area). According to the Radio 1 News at 5.45pm their reporter who tried it found it a bit noisy and reported that it had blown over in high winds but I have no confirmation of this. The concept of a second opinion is a valid one and may be of great value to some patients. Shopping on price alone is a dangerous game in any field of medicine and dentistry as their are many other factors that will determine what is best for you. I have covered this in a previous entry (Putting the Miles into Smiles) so won’t repeat them here but will say, as ever, choosing the right dentist for you is based on a two way conversation used to develop a trust and understanding so that you can agree on what is the very best and most appropriate care available.