5% Increase In Treatment Charges
The British Dental Association has spoken out against the government’s imminent treatment charge increase for NHS patients.
NHS dental charge fees are due to rise by 5% from the 14th December, 2020. The price hike was previously postponed from the 1st April of this year, due to the onset of the pandemic. However, the news may come as a shock to dental patients who have found it challenging to secure appointments following lockdown. Patients across the UK will now be paying more for treatment that was originally scheduled months ago. As a result, the British Dental Association has spoken out against the 5% increase, calling the move ‘utterly wrongheaded’.
How Much Will Your Procedures Cost?
The increase in charges applies to check-ups and routine procedures such as crowns, root canals, dentures and teeth extractions.
A reputable Chelmsford dentist outlines how the NHS charge band system works and that patients can expect the following changes:
The charge for this band will increase from £22.70 to £23.80. Routine check-ups fall within this category along with x-rays and a simple scale and polish as required. Any emergency appointments to halt pain also belong to this category.
The 5% increase in this band takes the NHS dental charge from £62.10 to £65.20. If you require a filling, extraction, root canal treatment or periodontal work, you’ll find that your procedure now costs you £3.10 more than it would have done at the beginning of December.
The top tier of NHS dental charges will go up from costing £269.30 to £282.80. As the largest price hike out of all three of the bands, this applies to much more complex work such as crowns, bridges and dentures.
During lockdown, dentists were forced to close their doors and cancel scheduled appointments. Since reopening, they’ve also had to reduce their appointments due to the introduction of fallow periods to curb the spread of Covid-19. This has required dental practices to vacate the treatment rooms for an hour following AGPs before being able to re-enter and clean the environment. This has had the knock-on effect of dentists being able to see far fewer patients per day.
The British Dental Association estimates that the impact of the pandemic on dental care has created a backlog of more than 19 million appointments so far. There are now concerns that the rise in fees will prevent or discourage even more dental patients from accessing the care they need.
Patients may already be struggling with existing dental problems, as well as the strong possibility that the pandemic has impacted their finances in some way this year. By increasing the cost of NHS dental care, this could dissuade patients from booking appointments. Those on lower incomes, who are also high-risk will be even less likely to seek the treatment they require according to the BDA. Following the Adult Oral Health Survey, it is already known that 26% of the public use cost as a basis to determine their choice of dental treatment.
The British Dental Association further explains “We’ve appealed to government for support to bring down the backlogs. Sadly, this short-sighted approach will only give lower-income, higher-risk patients more reasons not to attend.”