Current costs are leaving one quarter of patients delaying or avoiding treatment, according to new statistics.
With NHS dental charges in England set to jump to 8.5% today (Monday April 24), the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned government that costs are now shaping the clinical choices made by millions of patients.
The BDA is urging ministers to follow the lead of public opinion and break with its long-term strategy of using charge increases as cover for cuts in government spending on NHS dentistry.
A survey by Yougov of adults in England shows:
- Nearly a quarter (23%) report delaying or going without NHS dental treatment for reasons of cost
- More than two in five (45%) say the price shapes the choice of treatment patients opt for, more than those following the clinical recommendations of their dentist (36%)
- An overwhelming majority support a break from the government’s current model of ramping up charges while reducing government spending. Almost two in five (38%) say dentistry should be fully funded by government through general taxation. While 29% say funding from government should increase, while maintaining some patient charges. Similar levels of support are clear among all political allegiances, social classes, and regions. Around 16% say charge levels should remain unchanged
- Strong support for extension of free NHS dentistry to groups not currently covered, with 82% saying exemptions should cover cancer patients, whose treatments can cause severe dental problems.
As a result, the BDA is urging the government to reject plans broadcast by Whitehall sources for a further 4% increase in charges next year.
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BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘This hike won’t put a penny into NHS dentistry, it will just force millions to think twice about needed care.
‘Sadly, widening health inequality is a price this government seems willing to pay to cover for cuts.
‘This is not a partisan issue. The public recognise this is not the way to fund a core part of our health service.’
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