New figures suggest ‘postcode lottery’ for NHS dental care spending

There are wide variations across England in the amount spent on NHS dental care, figures have suggested.

One NHS authority spent almost 67% more per head than another.

In 2005/06, Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority (SHA) spent £50 per head, an increase of 70% from 1997/98.

Meanwhile, Hampshire and Isle of Wight SHA spent just £30 per head, an increase of 25% on figures for 1997/98.

Across England, spend per head on NHS dental services (paid for by the NHS and through patient charges collected at practices) increased from £27 per head of the population to £39 between 1997/98 and 2005/06.

The data, from the Information Centre for health and social care, refers to spending in England on NHS dental care before the new contract of April 2006.

Figures published last month highlighted the lack of access for patients to dentists as a result of its implementation.

More than 500,000 fewer patients have been seen over the last two years compared with the two years before the contract was introduced.

This report shows that gross expenditure on dental care increased by 53% between 1997/98 and 2005/06 (from £1.293 billion to £1.977 billion).

The SHA showing the greatest percentage increase (69%) in expenditure over this period was South Yorkshire, from £37.2 million to £62.7 million.

The report is available at

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