Orthodontic funding slashed by 20%
 

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Orthodontic funding slashed by 20%

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Orthodontic funding slashed by 20%

 

Orthodontic funding slashed by 20%

More than 7,000 children per month are being denied braces and other corrective treatment after the government cut the number of youngsters eligible for orthodontic care.

Some children deemed eligible for treatment under previous rules no longer qualify, while others will have to wait several years, forcing many to go private – which would cost their parents between £3,000 and £4,000.

The British Orthodontic Society said changes to the rules governing corrective dental work on the NHS means the number of patients eligible for free treatment has been cut by 20 per cent, meaning around 85,000 of the 420,000 patients treated each year will be turned away, most being children and teenagers.

Chris Kettler, executive secretary of the British Orthodontic Society, said: 'More than 20 per cent of children who would have been treated under the NHS cannot be now. We need more funding.'

The problem is being blamed on the new dental contracts, introduced by the Department of Health (DoH) in April, which have led to restrictions on the orthodontic work carried out by dentists, increasing the pressure on orthodontic specialists. It is also feared that newly-qualified specialists are struggling to meet their running costs, leading to them to move into the private sector.

The chairman of the British Orthodontic Society Iain Hathorn said: 'We are disappointed because the new system was heralded as a way of distributing orthodontic provision more fairly around the country. We have a situation where there are children who need orthodontics who are on long waiting lists, while newly-qualified specialists who want to work in the NHS are unable to do so.'

Under the new rules, orthodontists must assess a child's teeth against a gallery of dental photographs and descriptions called the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need. Only those who need the most work are treated on the NHS, leaving those with crooked teeth or a slight overbite to go private. In some cases, children whose names are already on orthodontists' waiting lists have now been ‘reclassified’, and are no longer entitled to treatment.

Derek Watson, chief executive of the Dental Practitioners' Association, said: ‘The Department of Health is under-funding the service by saying that everyone who doesn't qualify under the new rules has acceptable teeth.’

The DoH rejected the British Orthodontic Society's figures. Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft said: 'There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there has been a 20 per cent drop in eligibility for children's orthodontic treatment since April.

‘The decision as to whether a child receives treatment rests with the orthodontist, and is made on a clinical basis. Primary Care Trusts are expected to make the best use of taxpayers' money, so it is sensible for them to ensure that resources earmarked for orthodontics are spent on those children who can benefit the most from the treatment. The NHS cannot be expected to divert healthcare resources to fund purely cosmetic treatment.'

 Posted on : Tue 19th - Dec - 2006

 

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