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Are dentists 'playing the system'?

14th October 2008

The Department of Health has suggested it thinks that dentists in England are "playing the system to maximise their profits".

dentaltools

Health service papers analysed by the government showed that dentists are calling back patients for unnecessary check-ups and splitting up treatments.

The DH said it thought the dentists' methods had increased since their new contract was brought in two years ago.

The contract was designed so that dentists could have more flexibility and time to treat their patients.

The cost-charging system was split up into four bands. Treatment carried out on the health service is "heavily subsidised" although most people still contribute towards the work they have done.

As a consequence, dentists are able to make claims for double the amount if they treat patients over several appointments or recall them for check-ups they do not need.

The analysis showed that up to 800,000 appointments could be made available if dentists did not play the system.

A dentist's average salary during the first year of the new contract was £96,000. This was an increase from £87,000 in the previous year.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Many patients have been seeing their dentist at six month intervals for years as a matter of routine, but there is no evidence to support this as clinically necessary."

 

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