Pressure builds over high NHS dental charges

Pressure builds over high NHS dental charges

The Mirror reports that ‘rising dentist fees’ are forcing patients with toothache to visit A&E and their GP doctor. They say thatDrop in NHS spending on dental care has had repercussions for patients and the resulting strain on docs and hospitals is costing tens of millions. Last week the LDC Conference likewise condemned the charges as a ‘tooth tax’.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question junior minister Steve Brine MP reported that, over the past five years, the total amount recovered in charges rose from £653m to £777m, which represents a rise from 23.0% to 28.1%. Government’s net spending on NHS dentistry has fallen from £2,191m to £1,991m.

The BDA estimates about that 135,000 patients a year attend A&E for toothache at an annual cost of almost £18million. Other studies show 600,000 people a year visit their GP with dental problems, at a cost of more than £26million a year.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, of the BDA, said: “Every year dental patient are putting in more towards their care just so ministers can pay less, and inevitably other parts of the NHS are feeling the strain. Low income patients are heading in droves to doctors who are neither trained nor equipped to help them.”

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran called for extra funding and said: “Every patient is getting £5 less care than a few years ago. We are facing a child tooth decay crisis in this country, yet spending is plummeting. It beggars belief.”

Motions at LDC Conference deplored the above inflation increase in patients charges that amounted to ‘a tax on the dental health of patients’. Another motion demanded that dentists cease to be tax collectors for the Government and that the Treasury find an alternative mechanism for collecting the charges.

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