Problems continue two years on from new dental contract

NHS dentists and their patients still face significant problems two years after the introduction of the new contract in April 2006.

That’s according to reports by the NHS Information Centre.

They show that more than one million fewer patients in England have been able to access NHS dentistry since the introduction of a new contract for dentists and patient charges in April 2006.

The number of patients accessing NHS dentistry in England in the 24 months prior to 31 March 2008 was 27,049,000, compared to 28,145,000 in the 24 months prior to 31 March 2006.

The reports also appear to highlight changes to the type of treatments patients are receiving.

Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA’s Executive Board, said: ‘These reports provide further evidence of the persisting problems with the 2006 NHS dental reforms. More than a million people have now lost access to NHS dental care.

‘Those that are able to access care are confronted with a system that discourages modern, preventive care by placing targets, rather than patients, at its heart.

‘This is difficult for dentists, who want to focus on providing the best possible care for their patients.

‘The apparent change in treatment patterns is also of concern and requires further investigation so that the impact of the new contract is fully understood. Such an investigation was recommended by MPs last month in the report of the Health Select Committee.

‘The Government must take note of what these reports, patients and the profession and even the Health Select Committee have told them and act to resolve the issues facing NHS dentistry in England and Wales.

‘It is also important that primary care trusts and dentists are properly resourced and supported to ensure the commissioning work they are doing is effective and meets patients’ needs.’

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