The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has increased the cost of patient charges, in what dentists are saying is a cover for NHS cuts.
The British Dental Association (BDA) attacked the increase, which affects patients in England, saying it was a diversion from the cuts being made to NHS dentistry.
The following new charges are applicable from April:
- Band one treatments – £21.60 (increased by £1)
- Band two treatments – £59.10 (increased by £2.80)
- Band three treatments – £256.50 (increased by £12.20).
Overall the prices for dental treatment have risen by around five per cent.
Studies have shown that some patients (600,000) suffering toothache are choosing not to go to the dentist and visiting their GPs instead. Another 135,000 are heading to their local A&E for dental advice. Neither is equipped to provide the necessary treatment and it is estimated that these appointments are annually costing the NHS more than £26 million.
The Government has said it estimates the increase in charges will raise £72.4 million per year.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of General Dental Practice at the BDA, said: “These unprecedented charge hikes are self-defeating, and simply discourage the patients who need us most from seeing an NHS dentist.
“Cost is a huge barrier to many patients on moderate incomes. The result is patients bottling up problems and requiring more extensive treatment, which hurts their health and costs the NHS millions.
“Prevention works in dentistry, but we can’t deliver that focus when Government keeps choosing quick savings over sustainable investment.”