18 April, 2009


Too Few Dentists?

dentist dictionaryWhy can't I find a new Dentist?
There was an odd scene recently outside a Camarthen dentist's surgery as hundreds (yes, hundreds) of people queued round the block simply to register with their local dentist! He had announced his NHS surgery would be taking on 300 more patients. Several times that number were waiting to sign on!

Changes in the way dentists earned money by doing NHS work were made a few years ago and this has meant that while most do both NHS and private, the mix has moved much more towards private. The UK is also short of about 4,000 qualified dentists.

open wideThe Government has put up £368 million for dental services and this should help recruiting. It is hoping to provide 170 more college places per year to train more dentists and also to recruit trained dentists from Eastern European countries which have just joined the EU. They have set a target of getting 1000 more dentists by October 2005.

There is also a 'new deal' contract being worked out for existing dentists who will then be able to earn more treating NHS patients.

Dr John Renshaw, chairman of the British Dental Association' s Executive said: "At long last the government has begun to take notice of the queues and the distress."

Critics argue that requiring to check the teeth of healthy registered people every six months rather than once a year is wasting dentists time and the NHS budget. The national Audit Commission said £158 million is wasted every year in this way.

All British citizens are entitled to NHS Dental Treatment. But unlike going to a doctor you will be expected to pay for 80% of the work done up to an upper limit of £378.00 per treatment. The government picks up the rest of the bill. Prices for NHS work are standard throughout the UK.

If you are one of the following special cases you can get your dental treatment free:

  • Under 18
  • Under 19 but in full time education
  • Pregnant
  • Have given birth in the past 12 months
  • Receivers of Family Credit or Income Support

All dentists can offer a mix of private and NHS service. Some things (such as teeth whitening) can only be done privately.

To find a local dentist, log on to the NHS website and put in your own POSTCODE. Once you have registered you will need to visit your dentist at least once every 15 months to keep on their list.

Phone Icon Phone: 0845 4647 NHS Direct

website Web site: NHS England

website Web site: NHS Scotland

website Web site: NHS Northern Ireland

website Web site: NHS Wales

website Web site: SFTF - Health

If you cannot get registered with a dentist NHS Direct will arrange for you to:

  • receive emergency dental treatment (in A&E)
  • receive urgent treatment (within 24 hours) to relieve pain and subsequently be offered treatment for dental problems identified at examination); or
  • have an oral examination followed by a course of treatment for identified dental problems (routine treatment, within 8 weeks and 10 miles of patients home).

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