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Rise in NHS dental charges met with refusal

(Photograph: Aycatcher/Shutterstock)

Tue. 15 March 2016


LONDON, UK: Friday’s announcement by the Department of Health that NHS dental fees will be increased in the upcoming and the following year has received negative response from both opposition and dentists. Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, Andrew Gwynne, said over the weekend that the government plans, which also include a rise in prescription fees, are a kick in the teeth of patients.

“Prescription charges and dental fees can really build up and impose a considerable cost, particularly at a time when family budgets are being squeezed. The truth is Tory Ministers are increasing these charges because they’ve lost control of NHS finances. Hospitals are forecasting huge deficits and spending on agency staff has gone through the roof,” he remarked on the plans. “Patients shouldn’t have to pay the price for this government’s financial mismanagement of the NHS.”

Dental associations have also reacted negatively, saying the rise could result in fewer patients seeing a dentist.

“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,” Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chairperson of the General Dental Practice Committee of the British Dental Association, said in a statement.

Dental charges by the NHS will see a sharp hike of 5 per cent in 2016 and 2017, according to a statement released by the Department of Health last Friday. Fees for dental examinations will increase from £18.80 to £19.70 in 2016–17 and to £20.60 in 2017–18. Band 2 procedures will rise from £51.30 to £53.90 in 2016–17 and to £56.30 in 2017–18, while Band 3 treatment will cost £233.70 in 2016–17 and £244.30 in 2017–18.

The increases are substantial, as dental charges have only increased by 20 per cent over the last ten years. Together with higher charges on prescriptions, the extra revenues are supposed to allow for £22 billion of “efficiency savings”, Minister of State for Community and Social Care Alistair Burt said.

The new charges will become effective in April.

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