Letter: Dental pain

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your report on student numbers ("University fees don't deter young", 12 June) only tells half the story. The Government's plans for higher education are already having a dramatic impact on applications to dental schools, with a 12.1 per cent decrease this year.

The British Dental Association (BDA) is very concerned at the potential effects on NHS dentistry. Increased financial burdens on dental students will make it much more difficult for all but the most wealthy students to train as dentists. It is important that the dental profession reflects society as a whole.

A BDA survey last year found that 90 per cent of newly qualified dentists had debts averaging pounds 9,200 per head. We are concerned that the introduction of tuition fees together with the scrapping of maintenance grants will simply increase the pressure on some areas; it may become even more difficult to find an NHS dentist than it is now. I wonder how the Government will square this with their stated commitment to improving access to NHS dentistry.

JOHN HUNT

Chief Executive

British Dental Association

London W1

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