Dentists call for more government cash
DENTISTS need more Government money to continue providing NHS treatment, a Suffolk dentist has warned.Richard Hanlon is chairman of the Suffolk Local Dental Committee and spoke out following an audit commission that revealed the NHS is wasting at least £158 million a year in England and Wales on unnecessary check-ups.
By Jessica Nicholls
DENTISTS need more Government money to continue providing NHS treatment, a Suffolk dentist has warned.
Richard Hanlon is chairman of the Suffolk Local Dental Committee and spoke out following an audit commission that revealed the NHS is wasting at least £158 million a year in England and Wales on unnecessary check-ups.
In East Suffolk there are 379,039 patients registered with an NHS dentist which accounts for 56 per cent of the population, compared with an average of 48 per cent across the whole of England.
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But Mr Hanlon, a dentist of 30 years, pointed out that NHS dentists are not getting nearly enough money from the government to cover NHS treatment.
He claims that dentists are having to take on more and more work to make ends meet and are seeing twice as many patients every day than their European counterparts.
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He said: "Like any job, we have to make a profit to survive.
"It costs around £120,000 to set up a single dental surgery in capital.
"You have to pay back the loan as well as pay your staff and make a living."
Mr Hanlon, who has a surgery in Framlingham, said the problem was not a new one and unless the situation was remedied and the Government started to put more money in, dentists would be forced to turn more to private care rather than NHS.
He said: "We have been trying to do something about this since the mid-60s.
"There is a new report called Options for Change which invites dentists to come up with solutions.
"A number of trials are to be set up but it is too soon to tell whether any will be carried out around here."
The report also stated that millions of pounds are being wasted by dentists carrying out unnecessary treatment and that scaling and polishing rarely prevents or cures gum disease.
But Mr Hanlon pointed out that people do not want to walk round with dirty teeth and that plaque is also full of bacteria that can cause problems.
He also condemned suggestions that people with teeth in generally good health need not see a dentist for two to three years and said that any problems needed to be caught before they got too painful.
The British Dental Health Foundation also urged the public to ignore the recommendations of only seeing a dentist every two to three years.
Chief executive of the foundation Dr Nigel Carter said: "Although less frequent check-ups than the current six months may be desirable, two to three years is excessive.
"However, the need for more frequent visits will vary between patients depending on their clinical needs."