Page last updated at 23:08 GMT, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 00:08 UK

Reform overdue, says retiring dentist

The government is reforming NHS dentistry in a bid to improve access and make the charging system more simple. A retiring dentist speaks about where the current system has gone wrong.

Paul McGlone
Paul McGlone has been treating patients for 33 years

After 33 years as a dentist, Paul McGlone has been waiting a long-time for reform of the industry.

Mr McGlone, who runs his own surgery in the Kent village of Hawkhurst, said the government had been getting NHS dentistry on the cheap for years.

With the current shortages running to almost 2,000, he said the problems facing the profession were complex.

"Yes, we certainly need more dentists, but for all the promises that have been made the reality is that we do not have enough dentists graduating.


"It takes seven years to train a dentist so when my generation retires we won't be left with much [of a workforce]."

Mr McGlone, who will retire at the end of this month, also believes potential dentists are put off by red-tape and pay.

A dentist working for the health service earns between 65,000 and 68,000 each year - although the new contract which kicks in next April is not expected to significantly increase that.

Patients have said to me they can't afford it [cost of treatment] so they don't have it
Dentist Paul McGlone

He said: "As with all the NHS, there is too much bureaucracy, you spend too much time filling in forms.

"You are meant to see a patient every six months for a check up, if you see one before that you don't get paid for it.

"Dentists should also be paid more. I have had my practice up for sale for 18 months and no-one has bought it. I think the reason is that if you are going to buy a practice and a house, the money is just not enough to support that."

Mr McGlone, 95% of whose work is NHS, also said he thought the current charging system often stopped patients having treatment.

A patient has to pay 80% of the bill, although the amount they pay is capped at 378.

"It does put some off. Patients have said to me they can't afford it so they don't have it. That is not good."

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