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Delayed Dental Treatment

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    Is there a shortage of money in the UK for NHS dental treatment and is this causing patients to suffer due to delayed dental treatment?

    By Rebecca Callard

More and more people in the UK are seemingly finding that they are either having to pay privately for dental treatment or are delaying NHS dental treatment for months at a time because dentists are running out of NHS funds to treat them.

CURRENT CONCERNS

It was recently reported that NHS dental patients in some parts of the UK were unable to get an NHS dental appointment for some 4 months, whereas people in other areas were only having to wait a week or so for an appointment.

Some patients have been told that they will have to pay for an appointment, in the region of £20 for a check-up, if they want to be seen any earlier. This is apparently because certain NHS dental surgeries have run out of NHS funds until the beginning of the new financial year in April, when funds will be replenished. But what about those people who cannot afford to pay for private dental treatment in the meantime?

A young woman was recently told that she could not have her 6 front teeth replaced with dental implants as part of her NHS dental treatment, because the treatment was too costly. This came after she suffered the loss of her teeth, a broken pelvis, a snapped jaw and dislocated knees following a serious and near-fatal cycling accident.   She now cannot afford to pay privately for these implants and faces the prospect of wearing dentures at the age of just 20, for the rest of her life.

With all these limitations, it is hard for the man on the street to be sure what NHS dental treatment actually covers and when. It begs the question, are NHS dental funds actually diminishing or are there other reasons why NHS appointments are now not guaranteed when they are needed?

We recently wrote  about reports that some dentists conning the NHS out of funds by claiming for treatment which was never provided, or patients that didn’t actually exist. Sadly, this has been found to be not that uncommon, so should there be tighter controls on dentists and how funds are being spent when providing NHS dental treatment? Is it right that there is a cap / limit on the amount of money spent by dental practices on NHS dental treatment each year which often leads to deserving patients being denied treatment?

OUR EXPERIENCE

On occasions, delayed dental treatment can cause serious problems for patients, for example worsening the outcome for them and the amount of restorative treatment they require, which in turn increases cost. We at the Dental Negligence Team see this all too often. If you think you have suffered due to delayed dental treatment, then call to speak to one of our specialists who will be able to offer you further advice.

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