Poster rally slammed
 

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Poster rally slammed

 

Poster rally slammed

By Ian Drury, parliamentary correspondent

NHS dentists have been slammed for displaying posters in surgeries, which MPs claim are frightening patients into signing up with private practices.

Dentists unhappy with the new Government contract, which will come into force in two months' time, have launched a campaign encouraging patients to complain about the radical changes.
Dozens of dentists are putting up posters in their waiting rooms, which state: ‘Is NHS dentistry important to you? There may not be an NHS dental service from April 2006!’

The notices warn patients that the measures will mean increased charges for simple dental work, an end to six-monthly check -ups, and subsidising the care of people who do not look after their teeth.

Now Primary Care Trust (PCT) bosses have been forced to write to local dental committees to point out that the posters could unwittingly drive concerned patients to private dentists.

In a strongly-worded letter one local PCT, which oversees dental care for the NHS, said the campaign was causing ‘unjustifiable alarm’ to many patients, and should not be allowed.

MPs have raised the issue in Parliament with Health Minister Rosie Winterton, who has asked Department of Health officials to investigate the issue, which flared up in Leicestershire.

She told the House of Commons: ‘The chief executives of virtually all PCTs in the area wrote to the local dental committee pointing out that the posters being displayed in surgeries could result in patients unnecessarily taking up offers of private dentistry.

‘They have requested that the local dental committee does not encourage dental practices to display those posters, and have been very clear that the offer made to dentists is reasonable.’

Andy Reed, Labour/Co-operative MP for Loughborough, said the campaign ‘seemed to be scaring many... constituents.’

In his letter, Colin Blacker, chairman of Charnwood and North West Leicestershire PCT, said the poster was ‘misleading and distorted’. He wrote: ‘The poster suggests that there may be no NHS dental service next year. This is simply not true. As a PCT, we have received millions of pounds to commission dental services for 2006/07.

‘All current dentists have a guaranteed right to a new dental contract, which protects their current level of NHS earnings and offers them the opportunity to work in a different way - with at least a 5% reduction in the treatment they have to carry out and
a greater focus on preventative work.

‘If, however, some local dentists choose not to take up new contracts, we will commission these services from other dentists.’ He added: ‘We will indicate to the dentists who display the poster that we have strong concerns about the unjustifiable alarm it could cause for many patients and we will be ask them to remove it.’

NHS dentists are angry at the new contract amid fears they will lose income. Under the current system, dentists charge a fee for every filling and extraction, with no incentive to carry out preventive care. But the new contract will introduce three fee bands of £15, £41 and £183, in a bid to discourage dentists from a ‘drill and fill’ mentality.

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 Posted on : Fri 3rd - Mar - 2006

 

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