Dentists unhappy with latest increase in charges

Practitioners have been disappointed by this month’s announcement that dental charges are to rise by a further five per cent from the beginning of next month.

The increase, which will take effect across England from April 1st, follows an identical hike this time last year

Following the changes, a band one course of treatment will increase by 90p, a band two will go up by £2.40 and treatment in band three will rise by £10.60.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has been a vociferous critic of the increases, arguing that they may dissuade those patients in urgent need of treatment from visiting their local practice.

Their fears appear to have been borne out by reports that a growing number of people with dental problems are visiting their GP or arriving at A&E because of the increasing charges.

This is serving to put strain on other branches of the health service which are already under significant pressure.

Responding to the previous increase last spring, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, who chairs the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: “This…will only serve to discourage the patients that are most in need of care.

“This money doesn’t go to NHS dentists – they are being asked to play the role of tax collector, while our patients are singled out to subsidise the health service. We can’t tell them how this extra money will be spent, and whether a penny of it will actually end up improving dental care or access to dental services.”

Defending the latest increases, a Department of Health spokesman said: “Dental charges have always represented an important contribution to the overall cost of dental services – but we are ensuring that those who are unable to pay, including children, nursing mothers, and those on certain benefits remain totally exempt from charges.”

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