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Private dentistry market - Which? super-complaint

Which? research in 2001 found a number of distinct problems in the market for dentistry services. These included traditional problems of market failure and lack of competition alongside consumer protection issues and the relationship between private and state provider health services

In October 2001 Which? submitted a super-complaint to the OFT asking it to undertake a thorough examination of the private dentistry sector.

The key problems highlighted by the super-complaint included:

  • Lack of pricing transparency.
  • Large variations in prices charged for private dental treatment both within specific towns and between towns, suggesting a failure of competition.
  • The capitation schemes (insurance/pre-payment schemes) and chains that had entered into the market did not appear to be using their scale of operation to bring charges down for private patients.
  • Lack of an effective uniform redress system for private dentistry.
  • Difficulty in gaining access to an NHS dentist in many areas. The NHS was therefore not a sufficient competitive threat to act as a means of disciplining pricing by private dentistry.

See our full report:

Private dentistry market - Which? Super-complaint 56 Kb