NHS dental budgets face ‘further squeeze’

New figures have provided further evidence of the problems facing the government’s new contract, according to the British Dental Association.

The figures show that patient charge revenue generated £475 million instead of the expected £634 million,* resulting in a shortfall of £159 million in the dental budget.

The statistics show that 12 months after the introduction of the new contract in England, some primary care trusts (PCTs) are struggling to fund dental treatments as the patient charge shortfall equates to just over £1million per PCT.

Under the new contract, PCTs are responsible for commissioning NHS dental services but the BDA is concerned that around a quarter of the dental budgets they hold rely on revenue from patients charges.

BDA chief executive Peter Ward said: ‘Today’s figures underline serious flaws in the government’s new system for providing NHS dentistry. We’re concerned that dental patients will lose out as PCTs face this further squeeze on their budgets.

‘We believe that PCTs should receive their dental budgets in full to end this precarious situation. This all adds to continuing, and unacceptable, uncertainty for NHS dentistry.’

*Hansard:25 Apr 2007: Column 1196.

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