Patient fines and NHS tie-in under Tory plans

Any dentist trained using taxpayers‚ money would have to work for the NHS for at least five years under a Tory Government, the party has announced.

Publishing its proposals to shake-up NHS dentistry, the Conservative Party vowed to introduce the rule if it wins the next general election, which must take place within the next 12 months.

Under the party’s plans, dentists would be able to fine patients who repeatedly miss appointments.

The Conservatives also pledged to ‘slash bureaucracy’ to improve access to NHS dentists.

Figures out last year from the NHS information centre showed that around a million fewer people are now seeing an NHS dentist than before Government reforms of the system in 2006.

The Government insists the information centre figures do not represent the real picture across England, insisting new services are opening all the time.

Other new pledges from the Tories include creating incentives for dentists to spend more time on preventive dental care, improving oral health and reducing long-term costs.

They include the announcement at the weekend they would bring back a requirement for
dental check-ups to be given to five-year-olds in primary schools.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘This Labour Government is leaving a terrible dental legacy which will be difficult to fix.

‘Over a million people have lost their NHS dentist in just three years and dentists are fed up with the flawed, system of perverse incentives that Labour have introduced.

‘That’s why I am announcing that a Conservative Government will immediately cut waste and bureaucracy and restore access to an NHS dentist to the million who have lost one under Labour.

‘And we will make preventative treatment a real priority because we urgently need to improve our nation’s dental health.

‘Our plans will create real incentives for dentists to help people avoid tooth decay, so that we can cut the shocking rise in the number of people needing to have their teeth pulled out.’

The British Dental Association (BDA) has responded to the publication of the Transforming NHS dentistry document.

John Milne, Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘The dental contract that was introduced in 2006 has created significant problems for dentists and patients alike. Those problems have been well documented, by the BDA, patient groups and the Health Select Committee. In seeking to address those problems it will be important to afford access to dentists to all and ensure that dentists can provide modern, preventive care.

‘Also vital is engagement with the profession in developing the detail of these proposals and properly testing new arrangements before they are implemented. The BDA looks forward to seeing those details and discussing them further.’

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