NHS dentists turn away patients

Dentists are turning away patients because local health chiefs are running out of funds, dental leaders say.

A new dental contract started last year, but early figures suggest the government overestimated how much money would be taken in patient fees.

NHS trusts have begun to cut their budgets in response and the British Dental Association said this has led to some dentists refusing patients care. Many trusts say dentists are treating more exempt patients than expected - children and those on low income do not have to pay for care.

Health chiefs in Yorkshire, London, Surrey, East Anglia and the Midlands have all reported problems. Trusts have not been able to expand services as much as expected and dentists have been denied funds to treat patients.

The contract, which started in April, was designed to expand NHS services amid reports many patients were being forced to pay for treatment privately.

A Department of Health memo has made a number of recommendations to the trusts, which control funds. These include urging them to talk to dentists about getting them to accept more fee-paying patients if they were treating a high number of people exempt from the charges. It also suggested some dentists may be encouraging patients to pay for private treatment but the British Dental Association denies dentists are responsible by encouraging patients to opt for private treatment.

Everyone is blaming each other. The simpler truth is that the government got their sums wrong and dentist services are being hit.

The case for private dental insurance just gets stronger.


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