Dental Patients being charged twice?

Time to read exactly 2mins and 16 seconds

I heard on the radio today, (BBC dentist article) that ‘some NHS dentists’ are playing the system and charging patients twice for the same treatment.

It is a highly emotional subject for many, and it pains me that the some parts of our media take advantage and sensationalise aspects of this very difficult subject. A number of news reports have even neglected to point out that this situation is only relevant if you are an NHS patient.

This particular version originated with the Tory party, so I can only assume there are political points to be scored with the release of this latest ‘report’…

I do feel the need to stick up for the vast majority of dentists, because I know many who still work within the NHS system, and without exception they are honest hard working professionals providing the best service they can, within, what has to be said is a very narrow framework afforded by their NHS contracts (managed by the local Primary Care Trusts).

I know those of you who know me will have heard this before, but I think that the problems of providing government regulated (tax funded) ‘dentistry for all’ are once again shown up in sharp relief.

The main points as I see them are threefold

  1. Dentistry is now not only about stemming pain, it is about the long term benefits of the work carried out. In our opinion, it is better to spend more time and money on something that lasts longer. There is a whole other conversation about how the work looks (aesthetic or cosmetic) and self esteem, but in this context we should also see it from the society’s point of view (government).
  2. Where does the line get drawn between stemming pain, and providing long lasting quality work? The vast majority of us pay taxes. How much should we spend on medical ‘non-essentials’ that don’t save lives – of which dentistry is one.
  3. The above issues mean that the government is forced to ‘ring-fence’ nhs dentistry to prevent dental costs spiralling out of control at the expense of those essential bits of medicine which save lives….

‘Ring-fencing’
in this instance means capping fees (forcing dentists to use cheap materials and work faster than they should) and limiting what treatments can be used and when (ie only ‘low cost’ treatments approved). The results are disgruntled dentists, disgruntled patients and a subject which recurs every time the media has a ‘slow news’ day!

Now I’m just waiting for the obvious response to this email which is, ‘Fine, you think you can do any better?

What’s your solution, Einstein!?’

A subject for another day 😉 (soon)

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