NHS Dentistry Needs Reform Now

More than 10 million people are being forced to use expensive private dentists because they cannot get appointments on the NHS.
 
Britain's private dental treatment is the most expensive in Europe, yet a survey from insurer Simplyhealth says one in three of us cannot get treatment on the NHS.
 
An NHS check-up costs £17 (Dh96) and a crown costs £204. A survey by consumer group Which? found that privately it costs from £45 to £124 for a check-up and between £250 and £518 for a crown.
 
Now the Office of Fair Trading is investigating Britain's dental market to discover whether patients are given enough information about the cost of treatment. If you can't get treated by the NHS, insurance companies offer cash and capitation plans aimed at saving you money.
 
But you could end up paying more if you choose the wrong one.
 
With some schemes, such as capitation plans, where you make a monthly payment for a set course of treatment, you might end up paying for more than you receive — especially if your teeth are in good condition.
 
The cheapest option to help with the cost of private treatment is a basic cash plan offered by specialist firms such as Simplyhealth and Medicash. With these you pay a monthly sum and, in return, you will be refunded a proportion of the cost of basic treatment, such as check-ups and X-rays — up to an annual cash limit — among a range of other non-dental benefits.
 
The next steps to modernise and reform NHS dentistry were outlined by Health Minister Rosie Winterton today. The measures kick start an important new phase of the Government's reform programme by promoting good oral health, setting out a new dental charges system and outlining a new NHS contract for dentists. 
 
Today's proposals will build on the current phase of the modernisation agenda, which included recruiting the equivalent to an extra 1000 NHS dentists, increasing undergraduate training places and devolving funding to local Primary Care Trusts. 
 
A new dental charges system will scrap the outmoded and complex "fee scale" system where dentists have to claim separately for every single item of treatment they carry out. 
 
This means that dental patients will know exactly how much they are being charged before they receive their treatment. The new system groups all dental supplies treatment into three easy to understand bands which will make charges fairer and less confusing for patients, and less bureaucratic for dentists to administer. 
 
 

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