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Home Industry News BDA: NHS charges are driving dental patients to GPs

BDA: NHS charges are driving dental patients to GPs

9th September 2016

The British Dental Association (BDA) has accused the government of driving patients with dental problems to overstretched GPs through its policy of NHS charges.

Patient charges, which were first introduced in 1951 to lower demand for NHS dental services, have been described as a growing "tax on health" by the BDA, noting that they could soon overtake government funding as the main source of revenue for NHS dentistry.

Official figures show that nearly one in five patients have delayed treatment for reasons of cost, while recent academic studies show more than 11,000 patients a week are choosing to visit GPs, as they do not charge – despite the fact they are unequipped to provide dental treatment.

The BDA estimates these appointments cost the NHS more than 26 million pounds a year and mask real cuts to service funding, as well as discouraging the patients most in need of care from seeking it.

As dental charges in England increased by five percent this year and are set to rise by a further five percent in 2017, the BDA is keen to see action taken on this as soon as possible.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA's general dental practice chair, said: "Dentists are health professionals, not tax collectors. Our patients need an adequately funded service, and they deserve some honest answers on how that service will be paid for."

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