Patients 'bullied' into private dental care
 

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Patients 'bullied' into private dental care

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Patients 'bullied' into private dental care

 

Patients 'bullied' into private dental care

The Government has accused opponents of its health reforms of scaring patients into taking out private insurance - as new figures confirm thousands are signing up to private dental care.
Health Minister Rosie Winterton, speaking in the House of Commons, said: 'Many patients were unnecessarily worried by the actions of some dentists and dentists' organisations and of opposition parties.

'People were told that there would be no NHS dentistry and were encouraged to think that they had to take out insurance provision such as Denplan.'

One of the targets of Mrs Winterton's complaint was a hardcore of local dental committees (LDCs) which refused to go along with the new contracts, a Government source confirmed.

These are believed to include committees in Birmingham, Doncaster, North Tees and Leicestershire.

Birmingham LDC paid for the publication of a poster in the local press warning patients that 'NHS Dental Services are under threat!' and calling on people to complain to the health minister. The posters were also put up in surgeries across the city.

Eddie Crouch, secretary of Birmingham LDC, rejected the minister's suggestion that he was helping the private sector as 'complete rubbish' and blamed the 'imposition' of new contracts on dentists for the decision by a minority to leave the NHS.
Chairman Clive Harris added: 'She does seem to shoot from the hip. The majority of dentists have signed up to the new contracts.'

Figures supplied by Denplan, the largest provider of private payment plans, show a significant increase in dentists and patients signing up to its services in the months running up to April 1 - when the new contracts came into force.

From January to March this year almost 400 dentists either began offering Denplan to their patients or expanded their existing customer base - the same number as that for the whole of 2005, equivalent to an increase of about 7%.

During the same period more than 200,000 patients registered with Denplan - again, roughly the same amount as that which registered during the whole of last year - an increase of 15% which took its total number of payment plan patients to about 1.5 million.

A spokeswoman for Denplan said: 'We are seeing the pace of change increase quite dramatically as dentists consider the basis on which they want to practice in the future.

'Our feedback indicates that dentists are, even at this late point, still considering how they wish to practice in the future, and the overwhelming view is that the new NHS contract simply replaces the treadmill that used to exist within NHS dentistry with a new treadmill based on the Unit of Dental Activity targets and values.'

Practice Plan, another major provider of independent payment schemes, refused to reveal its patient numbers.

But a spokeswoman said: 'We have seen unprecedented growth over the last 12 months. The introduction of the new NHS contract has had a significant effect on the numbers of dentists opting out of NHS dentistry and converting to private practice.

'We believe NHS dentists will become more and more dissatisfied with the new contract and will look to convert to private practice to provide the dental care they believe their patients deserve.'

 Posted on : Tue 16th - May - 2006

 

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