GPs are treating more than 600,000 dental patients a year due to spiralling costs of NHS charges for dentists, a report reveals.
An analysis from the British Dental Association (BDA) reveals that GPs are recording 6.06 dental consultations per 1,000 patient-years. This represents around 600,000 dental consultations a year, or more than 11,000 per week.
BDA general dental practice chair, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said: “Ministers insist the NHS will remain free at the point of use, but keep ramping up England’s dental charges. Already these inflated charges are pushing those who can’t pay towards overstretched GPs, who aren’t equipped to treat them. It’s bad for our patients, and it’s bad for the NHS.”
UK dental charges rose by 5 per cent this year, and are predicted to rise by a further 5 per cent in 2017, despite cuts in NHS dentistry state funding.
Dr Maureen Baker, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) chair, warned that patients experiencing oral pain or discomfort should seek an appointment with their local dentist, and not their family doctor.
She adds that there may be a number of reasons why patients make an appointment with their GP and not their dentist, but doing so only “puts their own safety at risk, as they are not accessing the most appropriate care in the first instance.”