Charge increase providing cover for NHS cuts, say dentists

Press release from the British Dental Association: The BDA has branded the latest patient charge increases in England as a cover for cuts to state funding for NHS dentistry.

The third year of above inflation increases of around 5% a year will bring charges for a basic check-ups to £21.60, and charges for items like crowns or dentures to £256.50. According to the Government’s own estimates this amounts to patients paying in an additional £72.4 million over the course of the financial year.

Dental charges are increasing as a proportion of the NHS budget, while contributions from general taxation are in long-term decline. The BDA estimates patients will be contributing a full third of England’s NHS dental budget by 2020 – and are on course to exceed government spending by 2032.

Nearly 1 in 5 patients have delayed treatment for reasons of cost according to official statistics.

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“NHS dentistry is in a state of serious decay”

Owen Jones writes in the Guardian… “As the BDA points out, nearly one in five patients have postponed treatment because of fear of what it might cost. The government has slashed funding for NHS dentistry by £170m since the Tories first entered No 10, and it is expecting patients to make up the shortfall. This year, dental charges were hiked by 5%, and they’re expected to increase by the same amount next year. On the current trajectory, in 16 years’ time most of the NHS dental budget will be funded by patients rather than by central government. But the whole point of the NHS is that it should be free at the point of use, and treatment should be provided according to need, rather than ability to pay.

“Even children, who are entitled to free NHS dentistry, are being let down by a system that is unable to provide enough dentists to cope with demand.”

[Read full column on Guardian website…]