NHSreality concurs with a dental friend who observes: ” I have never managed to work out how politicians of all parties maintain that the NHS is free at the point of delivery! “.
Rationing by co-payment occurs in dentistry and ophthalmology. Dental health treatments are becoming a domain for the affluent only.. A knee jerk response to rationing by o-payments in Medical Care may lead to the same inequities. A denial of the need for rationing is already leading to increasing inequalities… and the return of fear. (In Place of Fear A Free Health Service 1952 Chapter 5 In Place of Fear)
Hundreds of thousands of GP appointments are being taken by patients with toothache as they try to avoid rising fees for NHS dentists.
Data from a study of 280,000 GP consultations over tooth problems was used to estimate that 600,000 appointments a year are made by patients seeking dental care. This costs the NHS more than £26 million a year.
GPs say that they can do nothing for patients with most types of dental problems, and going to the doctor causes longer waits for people who genuinely need medical treatment.
Fees for NHS dentistry range from £19.70 to £233.70 depending on the procedure — up from £15.50 to £189 a decade ago. They will increase next year by another 5 per cent. The rising fees mean that patients cover 26 per cent of the cost of NHS dentistry, up from 19 per cent a decade ago. If the trend continues, patients will pay for most of their treatment within 15 years. Dentists have blamed the rises on cuts of £170 million from NHS dentistry since 2010.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, of the British Dental Association, who studied the data on GP consultations, said that dentists were being used as “tax collectors”. He added: “Ministers insist the NHS will remain free at the point of use but keep ramping up England’s dental charges. Increasingly they look like a tax on health. Already these inflated charges are pushing those who can’t pay towards overstretched GPs.”