Retiring dentist hits out at changes

A SUFFOLK dentist who is retiring after 45 years has hit out at Government changes which he fears will “destroy” NHS dentistry.

A SUFFOLK dentist who is retiring after 45 years has hit out at Government changes which he fears will “destroy” NHS dentistry.

John Sharp, of Berners Dental Practice in Berners St, Ipswich said he had a sense of “deep foreboding” about the future following a new pricing system introduced last year.

“It is a great sadness to me that what we have strived for for 60 years will degenerate into a pain relief service and proper dentistry will be private,” he said.

“The April 2006 changes are unfair, illogical and very poorly thought out,” he said.

“I am afraid I have deep forebodings that the present government's changes brought in last year will destroy NHS dentistry as we know it.

Over the past year Mr Sharp, from Tannington, near Framlingham, has sent a string of letters to health minister Rosie Winterton, chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft and Ipswich MP Chris Mole criticising the new pricing system, which he feels is geared to the “feckless” who do not take good care of their teeth and is unfair to regular patients.

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Under the new scheme courses of treatment are split into three bands which cost £15.10 for routine examinations, £42.40 for fillings or extractions or £189 for dentures or crowns.

“My main concern is that under the new system the majority of my patients are paying considerably more than they were before,” said Mr Sharp.

“Most of those who visit my surgery, for example, only need a check up or one or two fillings at most but under this scheme you could have as many as 20 fillings and still pay the same as just having one.

“The new charges have been worked out by bureaucrats, statisticians and academics and not by what we used to call 'wet-fingered dentists' before we started having to wear gloves, who are the people actually doing the work. It is a great shame.

“I've seen dentistry itself improve tremendously over the years but the Government attitude to the funding of it has got worse.”

Mr Sharp qualified as a dentist in 1961 and worked from July 1962 in practices run in Museum Street, Ipswich and Felixstowe by Jack Rowbotham before moving to Berners Street in the mid-1960s.

Mr Sharp added he was sad to be saying goodbye to his patients, some of whom he had been treating since he first came to the area and he would also miss staff and colleagues.