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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
Dentistry 'being ignored'
Child at dentist
Dentists say funding has fallen in the past deacade
Dentists say they are being left out of plans to modernise the NHS and that funding for their work has fallen in real terms in recent years.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said waves of dentists are leaving the NHS "because they do not feel that ministers value their services".



Press statements and speeches about the wider NHS ignore dentistry completely

Dr John Renshaw, British Dental Association
And they warn that patients are being put off going to the dentist because they fear they cannot afford treatment.

It is urging MPs, who are debating priorities for the NHS on Thursday, to recognise that dentistry should be at the centre of future plans.

The government is ploughing billions of pounds into the NHS to modernise the service and the BDA says, in a letter to MPs, that oral health should not be forgotten.

The BDA claimed spending on dentistry had gone up just 4.75% between 1992 and 1998, while inflation for the period was around 13% and the number of dentists with NHS contracts had risen by 12%.

Dr John Renshaw, chairman of the BDA's executive board, said: "Although Ministers tell us that they support our view that oral health is essential to general health, their press statements and speeches about the wider NHS ignore dentistry completely.

"Dentists are tired of government rhetoric and want action so that patients can receive the excellent quality of service they deserve."

Cost

The call comes after the Doctor Patient Partnership revealed one in five people were put off going to the dentist because of fear about the treatment and cost.

Just 42% of those questioned were registered with an NHS dentist and almost a third of people aged 65 and over had not been to see their dentist in the past three years.

There was also low awareness among people of the availability of government contributions to the cost of dental treatment.

The partnership and the BDA have produced 30,000 leaflets about finding a dentist, the difference between private and NHS services and the cost of treatment, which will be handed out at GP and dental surgeries.

Dr Simon Fradd, a GP and chairman of the partnership, said: "It is a problem that people are confused about the availability and costs of services and that public perception is that demand outweighs supply for NHS dental services."

John Hunt, the BDA's chief executive, said: "Many people on low incomes do not seek treatment because they cannot afford NHS charges.

"The BDA wants the government to take measures to make it easier for people on low income to receive help for their dental charges."

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26 Feb 00 | Health
Dentist training 'inadequate'
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