Today With Pat Kenny
The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, in-depth features and consumer interest
The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, in-depth features and consumer interest
New controversial guidelines on Personal Insolvency are to be published today with details on the terms and conditions that banks and lenders can impose on those in serious debt difficulties. For those who sign up for one of the new debt arrangements there will be guidelines on how much can be spent on food , clothing , personal care, health entertainment and childcare.
Noeline Blackwell of FLAC the Free Legal Advice Centre joined Pat this morning.
The Senate on Wednesday voted to reject a plan to expand background checks for gun purchases, even as family members of Newtown victims and other relatives of gun violence victims looked on.
Afterwards President Obama delivered one of the great speeches of his Presidency.
It took place in the White House Rose Garden, where Mark Barden whose 7 year old son Daniel was killed in the Newtown massacre, spoke first.
Pat was joined in studio by Graham Finlay of the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD.
Joining Pat with the latest from the Savita Halappanavar Inquest in Galway was Valerie Cox.
The Easter break at Dail Eireann ended this week and within hours the SIPTU no vote to Croke Park 2 had landed the government in the biggest crisis it has faced since coming to power. All eyes now on what Plan B or Croke Park 3 could involve or if the government will proceed with legislation to introduce across the board pay cuts . For the opposition it’s manna from heaven as they look over at furrowed brows on the labour backbenches. The recent drubbing the party received in the Meath East by election isn’t making things any easier. Add into the mix the property tax, abortion, anti-austerity voices, the personal insolvency guidelines out today and unemployment remaining stubbornly high and it’s clear that the next few months will be very difficult politically.
Joining Pat were; journalist, Noirin Hegarty; Gary Murphy, Professor of Government, DCU and Pat Leahy, Political editor, Sunday Business Post.
Scores of people are injured and an unknown number are dead after a huge explosion at a fertiliser plant near Waco in Texas. Pat was joined on the line by broadcaster was Henry Nichols
Figures from Bord Bia show that Irish people are eating more fish. Particularly hake, with 3 million euro spent on it last year. Globally consumption of fish and seafood per person is also rising steeply - but research also reveals that much of what gets sold turns out to be not as described on the packet.
Our recent horsemeat scandal revealed how processed meat can get mislabelled in a complicated supply chain. But the worldwide trade in fish is also proving vulnerable to fraud. Food and farming journalist Suzanne Campbell joined Pat to talk more about the issue.
Paddy O'Gorman was at a welfare office in Ranelagh in Dublin to meet
people in private rented and on rent supplement.
When you go to the dentist do you think of yourself as a patient rather than a consumer, and do you see the dentist as operating a dental practice rather than a business?
But you are a patient and a consumer, and you should get what you pay for and be given accurate information.
So, if something goes wrong and isn’t sorted out, you should complain. And if it isn’t resolved you can go to the new Dental Complaints Resolution Service.
Tina Leonard is here to explain what the service entails and the sort of dental complaints received.
Having less cash to spare means that people are visiting their dentist less often. And research commissioned by the Irish Dental Association at the end of last year showed that almost 1 million people were postponing dental treatment due to cutbacks in state schemes.
However, remember that there is one benefit left for PRSI patients; that is one dental exam per year, so people should avail of that.
Medical card holders also have reduced benefits. They can now only get one dental exam, up to two fillings per year in emergencies and unlimited extractions.
This is the context of ever increasing pressure in the dental sector and also increased competition.
Consumers are free to travel abroad to avail of cheaper prices, there is more advertising from dentists, competition on prices charged, and increased use of social media and deal sites to market dental businesses and gain new customers.
But historically, when it comes to buying professional services, there hasn’t been a strong practice of seeing such purchases in much the same way as you would any other consumer purchase. That is to say, there has been limited price transparency and display and limited complaint handling mechanisms. In addition, consumers of say a dentist or doctor aren’t as used to complaining or as experienced in seeking redress when something goes wrong with their purchase.
But one area where improvements for consumers have been made is in the dental sector.
For example since June 2011 dentists must display their prices, thanks to a Code of Practice produced by the Irish Dental Council. And exactly one year ago the Dental Association of Ireland established a Dental Complaints Resolution Service, the first of it’s kind.
It is very important that consumers realise that as with any other purchase they have a right to get what they pay for and to transparent and accurate information. You are a patient but also a customer that is buying from a business.
Complaints are always a minor aspect of any service provision but nonetheless need to be dealt with appropriately in order to assist the consumer and improve the service reputation of the business in particular and sector in general.
Having a complaints procedure in place is of benefit to any business; it sends a message that we stand over our work, we know that occasionally things can go wrong and if they do, we’re here to help because we care about you and we’re proud of our work and reputation.
This new dental complaints service has now published a report for it’s first year (9 months), when 115 complaints were received. Michael Kilcoyne, who runs the service, says that for the most part dentists are happy to engage with him. He also says the most important thing is that dentists listen to their customers. He feels that some have lost or forgotten about the ‘common touch’ but that all customers need to be re-assured if something goes wrong.
How the Dental Complaints Resolution Service works
The service is independent of the Dental Association, is impartial and voluntary.
It is free to any consumer. It is also free to dentists who are members of the Association and costs €90 for dentists who are not.
As with any service, you should always complain to the service provider (in this case the dentist) first. Bear in mind that Dental Council guidelines prescribe that a complaints procedures be in place.
If your complaint hasn’t been resolved you can fill out a complaint form for the Service. After that, if your complaint isn’t satisfactorily resolved it can go to the Complaints Panel, which is made up of an independent member of the public and a dentist.
What type of complaints?
Complaints that can be dealt with cover a broad range but the service cannot deal with complaints relation to medical card treatment.
Your complaint might relate to poor treatment or it could be about misleading or inadequate advice or even poor communication between you and the dentist.
From the complaints received so far, the following were the main areas of complaint and this will give an idea as to the range that can be dealt with.
Standard of work: crowns, bridges, veneers, braces, implants, etc.Access to recordsCostAttitude of dentistAfter-care serviceTime delay in having work completedNon-response to letters, emails or phone callsDifficulty in obtaining dental records.
Case example 1:
A woman in the North East had attended her dentist for manufacture and
fitting of new full dentures. However, after several fittings the lower dentures
remained extremely painful, so much so that the patient attended her GP for jaw pain and sores on her gum, and her GP told her to remove the dentures. There had been no fittings of the top denture.
In addition the patient had been asked to pay 100% of the cost (€750) up front, rather than paying a deposit and final payment on completion of treatment.
The patient had asked for a refund on several occasions to no avail. No
effort had been made to inform the patient about how many fittings would be needed, and she felt that her complaints of pain had been dismissed.
The patient’s daughter, who submitted the claim on her behalf, felt that the practice had taken advantage of a vulnerable older person.
The Dental Complaints Resolution Service wrote to the practice on their behalf. At first there was no response but later the dentist offered to refund the full amount and this was accepted.
Key issues: Poor work not addressed, failure to fully inform the patient about the treatment and no engagement with concerns.
Case study 2:
In the east of the country a patient was advised that she needed her crown replaced and was told that first a temporary crown would be fitted and then root canal treatment performed before replacing the crown.
To her surprise, at the end of the first treatment the patient was told that the dentist had done three-quarters of the root canal and that two further visits would be required to complete the treatment.
She was then given an invoice for the full cost (€1,350), was shocked at the cost and advised the receptionist that she hadn’t been told of the cost prior to treatment or indeed that the root canal work would be started on that first visit and she did not have the money to pay the full cost straight away.
She reluctantly paid €300 for work carried out so far. She complained subsequently to the dentist; a payment plan was offered but her grievances regarding consent or fee information were not. The dentist offered to extract the tooth instead.
The woman decided to go to another dentist to have the treatment carried out, despite the fact she had already paid €300 to the first dentist.
Following intervention from the complaints service the dentist eventually agreed to refund the €300 and the matter was concluded.
Key issues: Lack of communication; recommending a treatment then doing something else without consent, and not advising as to cost.
Case study 3:
This case concerns a five-year old girl in the south of the country. She had two fillings done at one practice, both of which fell out, and follow up treatment didn’t resolve the issue.
So the family brought the girl to a different dentist who recommended the fitting of a stainless steel cap to prevent the fillings from falling out. The practice had recently started doing this treatment and it was explained that two visits would be required; one to put in separators, and the second to do the crown.
The first stage of treatment went well, but on the day of the second appointment the practice called to say that the dentist was unwell and another dentist would be carrying out the treatment and this was agreed to.
However, according to the mother, the second dentist showed a total lack of empathy, courtesy or respect towards her and her daughter, repeatedly telling the little girl to “stop whinging” when she became distressed.
On receiving contact from the complaints service the dentist gave references to show that the procedure had been carried out correctly and denied that he had been rude or that the child had been distressed, claiming he had been courteous at all times.
The mother felt this was inadequate and sought a signed apology. The complaints service recommended this and the mother of the child in question then received the apology and was happy with that.
Key issue: The attitude shown to a distressed child and her mother. A sincere apology at the start would have quickly resolved the issue.
Complaint breakdown statistics
Of the 115 complaints received the breakdown is as follows:
51 cases – either the consumer didn’t follow up with complaints service (23); advice sought but no further complaint (10); outside jurisdiction (6); referred to medical card / prsi scheme (12)
18 cases - resolved to the satisfaction of both parties (refund, additional work, apologies)
23 cases – nearing completion
18 cases – waiting for response from dentists
5 cases – referred to Complaints Panel
For more details of the service: www.dentalcomplaints.ie / 094 9025105