‘Hundreds’ of dentists shun NHS
 

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‘Hundreds’ of dentists shun NHS

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‘Hundreds’ of dentists shun NHS

 

‘Hundreds’ of dentists shun NHS

Dentists have demonstrated their views of the Government's new NHS contracts by leaving the health service in their hundreds.
Health Minister Rosie Winterton admitted one in ten NHS dentists – about 2,000 - had rejected new contracts, which guaranteed them £80,000 per year rather than paying them for each treatment carried out.

It means thousands of patients across England will be forced to try and find a new NHS dentist. The Government pointed out that many of the dentists who chose not to sign up to the new terms had a relatively small NHS commitment.

The departing dentists had provided just 4% of NHS services, said Winterton. But shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the figures meant about three million fewer treatments would be performed this year.

Lansley said: ‘These figures confirm that many dentists see the new NHS dental contract as unfair and unworkable.’ Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb said: ‘If the Government thinks that NHS dentistry is in a good state, they are living in cloud-cuckoo land.

‘The long-term future of NHS dentistry looks bleak unless the government urgently review the new contract,’ he added.

The response to the new contracts, which came into effect on April 1 of this year, varied across England. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 60 contracts were rejected - leaving the strategic health authority struggling to fill a gap in provision that is equivalent to 12.5% of its total NHS commitment.

Kent and Medway, and West Midlands South health authorities both found 9.7% of their NHS dental services abandoned since the April deadline passed. By contrast, the six contracts rejected in South Yorkshire equated to just 1% of its NHS provision.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has said the new contracts would hinder, rather than help, the prime minister in achieving his pledge to ensure everyone had access to NHS dentistry.
The number of people still trying to register for NHS treatment in this country is estimated to be two million.

Susie Sanderson, chairwoman of the Association's executive board, said: ‘This week almost 2,000 dentists have left the NHS.
‘Everybody - patients, dentists, consumer organisations and primary care trusts - knows there is a problem. Why is it only the Government that insists everything is fine? Only Pollyanna could see this as a vote of confidence in the new system.’

But the Government said the new reforms included powers for primary care trusts to bring in extra dentists to replace those refusing to sign the contracts.

Winterton said: ‘I'm very pleased that the vast majority of dentists have signed up. Primary care trusts are already making progress in replacing the small proportion of services where dentists have not taken up the new contract - something they did not have the power to do under the old system.’

 Posted on : Sun 25th - Jun - 2006

 

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