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NHS dental care hard to get

15th October 2007

A survey by an NHS feedback body has suggested many dental patients in England are being forced to pay for private care or go without treatment.

Dentist Chair

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health questioned 5,200 patients and found 20% had refused treatment because of high cost and 6% had treated themselves at some point by pulling out their own teeth.

Most of those who had gone private, about a quarter of those polled, said it was because they could not get NHS treatment locally.

And of 750 dentists polled, 84% said the 2006 NHS contract had failed to improve access to NHS services for patients, even though the government has claimed it brought about improvements.

It emerged that up to 50% of patients, whether NHS or private, were confused about dental charges with some saying they had taken out loans to cover treatment costs.

Sharon Grant, chairwoman of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, said many patients were being let down.

She said: “It appears many are being forced to go private because they don’t want to lose their current trusted and respected dentist or because they just can’t find a local NHS dentist.?

Susie Sanderson of the British Dental Association said: “The picture it paints, of patients unable to access care, dentists struggling with the target-driven system and anxieties about the new charging system, is an all-too-familiar one.?

However, the Department of Health said 21,000 dentists were providing NHS services and the survey reflected a very narrow view of NHS dentistry.

 

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