NHS dentists play as patients wait

From The Sunday Times

March 30, 2008

Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Editor

Health service dentists have been forced to go on holiday or spend time on the golf course this month despite millions of patients being denied dental care.

Many have fulfilled their annual work quotas allotted by the National Health Service and have been turning patients away because they are not paid to do extra work.

This is despite the fact that more than 7m people in Britain are unable to find an NHS dentist.

Patients have been told they must either pay privately or return in April when the new work year begins.

People suffering from toothache have been advised to go to hospital.

Areas affected include Merseyside, Derbyshire, Birmingham and East Sussex.

Eddie Crouch, secretary of the Birmingham local dental committee, estimates that up to a third of dentists in the West Midlands have run out of work or have had to reduce the number of NHS patients they treat.

"Patients in pain have had to shop around to find a dentist that has not used up their quota," he said.

The British Dental Association fears that other dentists have been unable to meet their quotas and will be forced to pay back thousands of pounds to the NHS. The health department says dentists should have managed their workload throughout the year.


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