13 Mar Jonathan Cartu Said: Patients of Finest Dental left suffering the consequences
Patients of Finest Dental are still left paying for their non-existing treatments after the chain of private dentists mysteriously closed without explanation.
Hundreds of customers have been left in the dark about what to do next after Finest Dental closed all of its branches without warning, with many having paid thousands for treatments in advance.
A large number of patients are also mid-treatment with some even left without teeth as they were waiting for implants to be fitted.
One customer has paid £10,000 upfront for treatment but was yet to even have an appointment after all of his appointments were cancelled or changed.
Closed down: Finest Dental shut without warning, leaving patients unsure of what to do next
Finest Dental ceased trading on 2 February 2020, at which point all dentists and other staff were locked out.
The British Dental Association said it seems that it got into financial difficulties but the specifics of this are not yet known.
The firm also tried to find a buyer or new investor in January 2020 but the details of potential buyers and investors are unknown.
It announced it would put itself into liquidation and in mid-February announced that an administrator would be appointed, however, there has been no further news about this.
A slew of customers of the now defunct chain got in contact with This is Money to complain about their experience – and also to try and establish what they can do moving forward.
What to do if you’ve been affected
Patients are still waiting for the company to file for liquidation so they can start the process of trying to retrieve their funds, or be given permission to cancel their standing orders.
In the meantime, customers who are midway through treatment or have paid up front are advised to contact their finance company and their bank for more information.
They are also encouraged to make a complaint to the General Dental Council, who can investigate any issues.
It could also be worth speaking to the Financial Ombudsman to make a further complaint.
One customer, Keith, said: ‘This company has taken my money and I was half way through my treatment.
‘On my last appointment, they extracted my teeth, ready to have the implants fitted. I am now left with stitches in my mouth and no teeth left.’
Another disgruntled customer, Heidi, said: ‘After paying them £10,000 in advance in May 2018, I’m now left with permanent nerve damage to my lower left face for which I have to have surgery, ten wonky, misshaped, miscoloured crowns and two temporary crowns.
‘I’ve spent over 150 hours in the chair and sent over 150 complaints over the last 18 months and have now instructed a lawyer.
‘I have a slight lisp, dribble without notice and have terrible anxiety over this whole process.’
A patient, Beverly, added: ‘I am not even half way through my treatment. I paid £3,000 upfront and £5,790 on a credit card which I then cleared.
‘My bank do not want to know as they have not gone into liquidation. I desperately need treatment but cannot afford to now pay someone else.’
One customer said she has been left with permanent nerve damage to her lower left face
While customers have still had no direct contact from the firm, a statement from the Finest Dental’s chief executive, which was given to ITN last week, said that a company called the Care Clinic Group will be taking over outstanding treatments.
It said: ‘The circumstances that led to the demise of Finest Dental took place totally unexpectedly and were out of the control of the management team; realising the need to attend to the patients, we have worked tirelessly over the last month in order to find a solution to continue the care for our patients.
‘As a consequence, we have found a solution with the Care Clinic Group, who will complete the outstanding patients treatments.
This company has taken my money and I was half way through my treatment. On my last appointment, they extracted my teeth, ready to have the implants fitted. I am now left with stitches in my mouth and no teeth left.
Keith – Finest Dental patient
‘We will be assisting the patients and The Care Clinic group to ensure a smooth transition between providers.
‘We deeply regret the position that we find ourselves and the patients in. There will shortly be a free phone number advertised on our website so that patients can make contact and arrange further appointments.
‘We will in due course be publishing a full report for the patients and the public that will outline the circumstances that led to the demise of Finest Dental.’
It added that it was ‘relying’ on the patient finance companies to assist it, understanding that the The Care Clinic Group is now in touch with the finance companies to find a satisfactory outcome for the patients.
However, there is very little information about the group, which was only set up at the very end of 2019 with a question mark remaining over whether it is viable proposition.
The proposed free phone number promised has also not materialised with the website still claiming that it is ‘still in the process of agreeing suitable options for patients to continue treatment’.
Patients of Finest Dental have been told another group will take over their treatments now
Despite the circumstances still being fully unknown, the company is due for a hearing in court at the beginning of April as a major creditor of Finest Dental was not satisfied with its plans for administration and is seeking a court order for compulsory liquidation.
The British Dental Association is now reporting that the proceedings will see the B&A Group, who own Finest Dental, facing compulsory liquidation proceedings.
Many customers claimed to have experienced problems over the course of their treatment with Finest Dental.
One patient, Lydia, said: ‘I paid £2,999 for Invisalign Full nearly two years ago but I’m still a patient there because the treatment took much longer than promised due to little continuity of staff and few available appointments causing delays to treatment plan.
‘I’ve been given faulty retainers twice as two sets broke in less than three months each, which is resulting in a relapse and I’ve been experiencing tooth pain, jaw pain and clicking which my regular NHS dentist thinks could be a result of the orthodontic work I received at Finest Dental.’
Another customer, Andres, added: ‘I have been receiving treatment since June 2017.
‘They told me that it would take two years to complete and today I still have metal braces glued to my teeth and a tooth sized gap where I was meant to have an implant.
‘I have also got two blocks glued to my bottom teeth which does not allow me to close my mouth properly.
‘I have seen at least six dentists and orthodontics in the last 12 months. But nothing was ever tightened’.
Many patients paid for the treatment upfront or are on payment plans with finance companies suggested by Finest Dental.
Most are continuing to pay on recommendation from their banks – despite receiving nothing in return.
One patient paid £8,790 in November 2018 and has taken out a loan to cover payments which she is now still paying, despite not receiving any treatment.
A locum dentist, who worked for the firm once, also got in touch to say they hadn’t been paid and were unsure of how to claim their money back from the company.
However, the dentists working at Finest Dental were self-employed subcontractors, associates, not involved in managing the business, leaving them as much in the dark as the customers.
A number of other frustrated customers have continued to take to social media to try and establish what is happening.
This customer said she was midway through treatment and tried to contact Invisalign for help
One user said they had no contact from Finest Dental and needed help knowing what to do
Help needed: Another customer asked for help as he is still midway through his treatment plan
Frustrated customer: One patient said it was ‘just awful that a company can do this to people’
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