NHS quota for dentists20th March 2009
The New Local Government Network has said dentists should be given a quota to restrict their private work.
The think-tank said that limiting private work would increase patients' ability to receive NHS dental treatment.
The government is currently in the process of reviewing health service dental provision following a critical response to the new contract.
In 2006 a new contract was brought in to England - and thereafter taken up in Wales - in an attempt to increase access to NHS dentistry.
However, there are now one million less patients making use of NHS dental services at present, in comparison to when the new contract began.
It is estimated that 3,000 dentists in England only treat private clients and another 4,000 devote less than a quarter of their work to NHS patients.
The NLGN said that a quota could be imposed which meant dentists would have to spend 50% of their time "in return" for their training, which costs £175,000.
Nigel Keohane, from the NLGN, said: "Dental patients continue to struggle to find NHS practices with capacity to take them. This limits choice and creates inconvenience for the customer and insufficient supply to meet demand."
Dr Barry Cockcroft, England's chief dental officer, said: "We feel that the measures we have taken are a better approach than a quota system for NHS dentists."
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