Prior to the 5% price hike on NHS dental charges on April 1 this year, the British Dental Association (BDA) had warned that many patients would be discouraged from seeking the care they need if it went ahead.
A subsequent 5% increase is planned for April 2017, which will mean that in just two years, a band one course of NHS dental treatment will have risen from £18.90 to £20.60; a band two course of treatment from £51.30 to £56.30; and a band three course of treatment from £222.50 to £244.30.
However, it seems that the price increases aren’t the only concern of the BDA. A survey coincidentally released on April 1 from the BDA has said that the payment system at the heart of the NHS dentistry contract is failing patients in the most need.
The survey found, worryingly, that 93% of dentists said chasing government targets is limiting their ability to care for high-needs patients – individuals who often require complex or repeat treatment.
A further 83% said they were hamstrung by the system, which meant they were unable to do as much preventative work as they needed to. Almost 70% said their ability to take on NHS patients had been limited as a result.
Over 85% of dentists surveyed said the NHS dentistry contract was restricting the time they could spend with patients.
Even though the government has said that it is testing alternatives to the current contract, the BDA said it remains committed to a model based primarily on activity targets.
It’s a reality that has seen leading dentists call upon the Prime Minister to honour past commitments and ensure prevention is at the core of any potential reform package.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: “The survey shows that those in most need have become the least welcome in NHS dentistry, thanks to a system that puts government targets before patient care. We are seeing the results of a conveyor belt model of provision that has left dentists without the time or the freedom to deliver the treatment their patients require.”
Overgaard-Nielsen added that dentists are being paid the same for one filling as they are 14, while many subsidise care for high-needs patients from their own pockets.
He finished by highlighting that the problem at present is three-pronged: “We receive financial penalties when we don’t hit targets, receive no compensation when we exceed them, and have no scope to take on new NHS patients, even when we have capacity.”
With poor oral health now estimated to cost the UK economy a staggering £36.6 million a year, the importance of dental work has never been greater for both individuals and companies alike.
Corporate dental plans are a great way for employers to attract new employees, as well as retain the ones they already have. Despite this, just 40% of UK companies have a corporate dental plan in place (Denplan research).
Premier Choice Group can help businesses find the perfect level of dental cover for their needs and budget. Contact us today to find out more about how corporate dental plans can benefit your business.
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