Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of Dentists to Stop or Cut Back NHS Work; Thousands of Patients to Be Denied Treatment

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of Dentists to Stop or Cut Back NHS Work; Thousands of Patients to Be Denied Treatment

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK;ISABEL OAKESHOTT

THE NHS is facing an exodus of London dentists in a row over pay and conditions.

The Evening Standard has found that up to half are preparing either to reduce or abandon their health service work in response to government reforms that come into force in April.

Thousands of people will be unable to have NHS dental care as a result and many more could be "de-listed" by an NHS dentist they have been with for years.

The row centres on the way dentists are paid for seeing health service patients. At present, they are paid for each NHS procedure and many combine this with private work. Under new contracts they will receive a fixed monthly paymentfor treating a pre-agreed number of NHS patients.

The dentists claim the new system is complicated and timeconsuming and that a new pricing system for patients will deter people from seeking dental advice and so lower practitioners' NHS income. Instead of different prices for more than 400 procedures, treatment fees will fall into one of three bands - [pounds sterling]15, [pounds sterling]41 and, for more complex treatments, [pounds sterling]182.

Brian Skinner, a Muswell Hill dentist, said he will halve the amount of NHS work he does.

"The new contract will almost certainly kill national health dentistry in the South-East," he said.

"It's bad at the moment but it's going to be a lot worse. Vast numbers of people will be disappearing off dentists' lists."

The Standard contacted 50 London dental practices which currently offer NHS treatment to ask what they plan to do when the new contracts come in. We found: . 24 expected to reduce their NHS work and expel patients.

. Nine of these plan to leave the NHS altogether.

. 10 expected to increase their NHS work.

. 12 were undecided.

Every dentist was critical. An Isle of Dogs dentist with more than 15 years' experience said: "My income will drop by 50 per cent. I am so worried about it I am having heart pains. …

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