Dentistry in Decay: NHS patients set for pre-Christmas price hike
The British Dental Association has accused the UK Government of “erecting further barriers” to NHS dental care after it revealed it would push out a price hike before Christmas.
Fees in England are set to increase by 5% on December 14th following a price freeze introduced in April, Jo Churchill, minister for prevention, public health and primary care announced yesterday.
It will mean the price of a routine check-up will rise by £1.10, to £23.80, while treatments such as root canals or tooth extractions will increase by £3.10, to £65.20.
More complex fixes such as crowns, dentures and bridges will now cost £282.80, an increase of £13.50.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said the above-inflation price rise would make it even harder for people to access care during the coronavirus pandemic, when dentists are already trying to deal with an unprecedented backlog in appointments.
BDA chair Dave Cottam said: “Slapping higher charges on patients struggling to secure care in the middle of a pandemic is utterly wrongheaded.
“This inflation-busting hike won’t put an extra penny into a service in crisis, or help millions currently unable to get an appointment.
“We’ve appealed to government for support to bring down the backlogs. Sadly this short-sighted approach will only give lower income, higher risk patients more reasons not to attend.
“Dentists are health professionals not tax collectors. These charges have ceased to be a ‘contribution’ and are now simply a substitute for decent state investment.”
In a written statement to Parliament, Ms Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said this was the fifth and final leg of a five-year commitment made in 2015 to raise the price of dental care annually.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We want everyone to have access to high-quality dental care, wherever they live.
“Last year the NHS delivered over 17 million courses of treatment which were fully exempt from paying NHS dental charges – nearly half of all treatments.
"These charges contribute towards the running costs of the whole NHS, including delivering world-class frontline patient care.
“We continue to protect the most vulnerable through exemptions and the NHS low-income scheme.”