Disputes over NHS dentists' contracts are still rumbling on, four months after they came into force.
Figures released today by the Department of Health have revealed that 69 per cent of contracts signed 'in dispute' are still to be resolved, with 1,922 of the initial 2,798 disputed contracts remaining unsettled.
"This is clearly an extremely worrying situation for many dentists and their patients and reflects the uncertainty, unfairness and unhappiness surrounding the government's reforms of NHS dentistry," said Lester Ellman, chair of the British Dental Association's general dental practice committee.
Mr Ellman claimed that dentists were frustrated by the target-driven nature of the new contract, which fails to allow a more preventive approach to care.
"And from the evidence so far," he continued, "the new contract seems to have done little to achieve the government's primary aim of making it easier to find an NHS dentist."
A third of new contracts offered to England's dentists and dental practices were signed in dispute, according to the Department of Health, meaning that those dentists will decide whether or not to remain in the NHS after their case has been considered through an appeals process.
Finding a dentist who offers treatment on the NHS is a growing concern among patients and many opt to pay for private dentistry
or take out dental insurance
to control the costs.