Net government expenditure in England on dental services has dropped by £550 million in real terms since 2010.
Over the same period, charges have increased by more than 30%.
‘Dental charges remain an important contribution to the overall cost of the NHS budget,’ Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, said.
‘We have taken the decision to uplift dental charges for those who can afford it, through a 5% increase this year.
‘This means the dental charge payable for a band one course of treatment will rise by £1.10 in 2019-20, from £21.60 to £22.70.
‘The dental charge for a band two course of treatment will increase by £3.00 in 2019-20, from £59.10 to £62.10.
‘The charge for a band three course of treatment will increase by £12.80 in 2019-20, from £256.50 to £269.30.’
Reasons not to attend
The British Dental Association (BDA) has slammed the above-inflation rise, saying it won’t mean any further investment for dentistry.
Charges for complex NHS treatment has increased four times faster in England than Wales over the past five years.
The association claims one in five patients have delayed treatment due to costs.
‘Despite pledges of record NHS investment, our patients are being singled out to pay more, just so ministers can pay less,’ BDA chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said.
‘These inflation-busting hikes don’t put a penny of new investment into this service.
‘They will do nothing for patients unable to find an appointment, or the practices struggling to recruit staff.
‘Dentists share the government’s commitment to prevention.
‘But we cannot make progress when low income, high needs patients keep being offered reasons not to attend.’
Dental patients heading to GPs
The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), warned that GP appointments for dental problems are ‘often not an effective or efficient use of resources’, with the result being that pressure is ‘piled on overstretched GPs who are simply unequipped to help.’
The survey found that people are turning to doctors because of the availability of appointments compared with dental care.
‘While GPs are trained to deal with a multitude of health concerns, we are not trained to treat dental problems,’ Dr Steve Mowle, honorary treasurer of the Royal College of GPs, said.
‘These are best left to the care of a professional dentist or, if required, urgent care services.’