Patient charge revenue makes up more than a quarter of NHS dental services spend

dental chargesSteve Brine MP says patient charge revenue makes up 28.7% of Government expenditure on NHS dental services.

In an open question to the Treasury, the Secretary for Health and Social Care gave the following NHS dentistry details:

 NHS dentistry  2017/18
 Gross expenditure (millions)2  £2,812
 Patient charge revenue (millions)2  £807
 Net expenditure (millions)  £2,004
 Mid-year population estimate (millions)1  55.6
 Net expenditure per capita  £36.04
 Patient charge revenue as a percentage of expenditure on total NHS dental services  28.7%

‘Dental charges remain an important contribution to the overall costs of dental services,’ a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said when the last increases were announced.

‘This increase will ensure that there is no shortfall in the costs paid by service users and those met by the NHS through the contributions of taxpayers.

‘We constantly strive for good patient access, and access to dental services continues to increase.

‘From January 2015 to December 2017, 22.1 million adults were seen by a dentist.

‘And almost seven million children were seen by a dentist between 2016 to 2017.’

Stealth tax

Last year the Government was accused of charging patients a ‘stealth tax’ through NHS dental charges.

The Times reports that the Government is making millions of pounds through patients paying more in dental charges than their treatment costs.

Some patients could be paying subsidies to the NHS of up to £10 at every checkup, which means the Government will be making £1.3 million over the next year.

‘When patients put in more towards their care than the Government pays to provide it, NHS charges cease to be a “fair contribution” and become a bad joke,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of the GDPC at the BDA, said.

‘This absurd situation has been fuelled by inflation-busting increases, and flatlining budgets.

‘These hikes don’t go to dentists, aren’t supporting needed investment or improving access.

‘They are becoming a nice little earner for Ministers, which actively discourage the patients who most need our care.

‘This funding model reflects Westminster’s casual disregard for NHS dentistry.

‘This service needs sustainable funding, not stealth taxes providing cover for stealth cuts.’

Mouth cancer tax

Calls for free dental care for mouth cancer patients have been gaining momentum recently.

The Oral Health Foundation says that after treatment, patients are faced with a series of long-term oral health issues.

These often result in complex and expensive dental work costing up to £1,500 over five years.

‘Survivors can be challenged with several oral health issues,’ Dr Chet Trivedy, trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘Chronic toothache, tooth loss and dry mouth are just some of the common problems that require long-term dental care.

‘Frequent dental treatment is often a necessity for mouth cancer victims.

‘With NHS dental charges ranging from £21.60 to £256.60 in England, the recurring costs over the course of a year can be staggering.

‘As it stands, there is a tax on mouth cancer.

‘This is highly discriminatory and extremely unfair.

‘We are urging health ministers to address this inequality.

‘Free dental care will go a long way to support mouth cancer patients in their aftercare.’

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