NHS dentists still not available to all2nd July 2008
A powerful committee of MPs say the new 2006 contract for dentists has failed to deliver access to NHS dental care.
A report by The Commons Select Committee on Health has shown that one million fewer patients are now being seen by NHS dentists, despite Tony Blair's 1999 pledge that there would be “access for all” to an NHS dentist within two years.
The report says getting access to an NHS dentist is becoming more difficult and also suggests that dentists are carrying out more extractions or referring patients to hospital rather than spending time on complex treatments such as caps.
In another development, there are fears that lower income families are delaying their visit to the dentist, putting their long-term dental health at risk.
Committee chairman Kevin Barron said Mr Blair’s promise to give all patients access to an NHS dentist “was not met.”
The committee’s report says: “The Department of Health’s goal that patient access to dental services would improve from April 2006 has not been realised. Various measures of access all indicate that the situation is deteriorating.”
Figures show that 900,000 fewer patients are seeing an NHS dentist, though the committee fears this is an underestimation.
Susie Sanderson, of the British Dental Association, said: “This is a damning report which highlights the failure of a farcical contract that has alienated the profession and caused uncertainty to patients. For the past two years, dentists and patients have told the Department of Health that it got it wrong. Now, MPs have agreed with the BDA.”
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