A classic way for government ministers to give advance warning of something that will cost you more money, is to have an “independent expert" write an article on the subject. Then ministers can shrug their shoulders and say that their new policy is what the experts predicted.
“Independent expert" Professor Jimmy Steele is a government advisor who has just completed a review of the dental system. He argues that higher NHS dental charges are inevitable, and it is all your fault.
What have you done wrong? If you are over 40, it is simply your age, as you need more dental work than younger people. If you care about your appearance and healthy teeth, and need a crown or root canal treatment, then you have made the NHS pay more to dentists, as “neither is really necessary.”
Professor Jimmy Steele argues that higher patient charges may allow the NHS to provide a more extensive service to a larger number of people, claiming that they are unlikely to increase to the level of private fees.
Steele attempts to back-up his case by arguing that treatment overseas is dearer than in the UK, a concept that would puzzle the thousands of Brits who go overseas for cheaper dental treatment. Professor Steele offers a carrot and stick - if we don’t pay higher charges, the NHS will just have to ration dental services by restricting access or reducing services.
Whoever comes to power in 2010 is preparing the ground for service cuts and higher prices for NHS treatment.
Raising NHS dental charges is an easy option as many have little choice but to use the service.