NHS dentist patients fall

THE number of patients getting NHS dental treatment in Suffolk dropped by more than 23,000 in a year despite the amount of treatments going up, figures reveal today.

THE number of patients getting NHS dental treatment in Suffolk dropped by more than 23,000 in a year despite the amount of treatments going up, figures reveal today.

While patient numbers are falling, the number of dentists taking on NHS patients and the amount of treatment being done is rising.

The Liberal Democrat party at Suffolk County Council asked for the figures from health chiefs at Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) under the Freedom of Information Act.

The figures show that between April 2005 and April 2006 there were 302,467 people in Suffolk getting NHS dentistry.


You may also want to watch:


The following year it dropped by 22,778 to 279,689.

However, Richard Ward, the PCT's consultant in dental public health, said: “Before the new dental contract was introduced nationally in April last year, there were only two dental practices accepting NHS patients in Suffolk, excluding Waveney.

Most Read

“There are now 12 practices accepting NHS patients in our area, which is a significant increase and shows the changes in the contract have benefited people in Suffolk.”

The PCT, which said investment on NHS dentistry in Suffolk in 2007/08 will be more than £3,000 more than it was in 2006/07, said it could not explain the drop in patients.

It said the number of treatments being done rose from 393,945 to 413,243 in the same period.

Councillor Andrew Cann, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council's Liberal Democrats, said the party was disappointed with the falling figures, but did not blame the PCT.

He said: “Dentists told me at the time that the government's changes would lead to less, not more, patients receiving NHS care and their prediction has proved accurate.

“It's time for a wholesale review of these contracts to see how they can be reformed to counter the further loss of NHS dentistry in Suffolk.”

The liberal democrat party will be meeting Norman Lamb MP, shadow secretary of state for health, this week to discuss the issue.

N What do you think about NHS dentist services in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter