‘A slap in the face’ – NHS dental charges to increase

'A slap in the face' – NHS dental charges to increase

The announcement that NHS dental charges will increase from April 2024 has met with criticism from the dental profession.

From 1 April 2024, NHS dental charges in England will increase by 4%. This will bring the cost of band one treatment such as a check-up from £25.80 to £26.80. A band two filling will increase from £70.70 to £73.50, and band three treatment such as dentures will rise from £306.80 to £319.10.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said this increase is ‘merely covering for government cuts’. It described the government’s strategy as ‘using charges as a substitute for meaningful state investment’.

The BDA also pointed out that charges in Wales have remained at a much lower rate. For example, band three treatment in Wales is charged at £203. This means patients in England are paying more than £100 extra for the same treatments.

‘Ministers are simply covering for cuts’

Shawn Charlwood is chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee. He said: ‘This latest hike is another slap in the face for hard-pressed families across England. 

‘This won’t put a penny in to bring NHS dentistry back from the brink. The government is asking the public to pay more for less of a service. Ministers need to explain why patients in England are expected to pay £100 more than their Welsh cousins for identical NHS treatment. The answer is very simple. Ministers are simply covering for cuts.’

As part of the NHS dental recovery plan announced in February, the government pledged £200 million of investment in dentistry. However, the BDA believes this funding is to be taken from previous underspending of the dental budget.

The association said: ‘None of this is “new” money, but is based on recycling vast underspends, the result of practices struggling to hit their punitive contractual targets.’

With the NHS dentistry budget remaining effectively static at £3 billion for around a decade, the BDA stressed that patient charges are forming ‘an ever-greater share of the total pot’.

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