'Dental tourists' seek cheap French fillings

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The shortage of NHS dentists has prompted a frustrated councillor to plan a form of dental tourism to France in an attempt to find cheaper treatment.

The shortage of NHS dentists has prompted a frustrated councillor to plan a form of dental tourism to France in an attempt to find cheaper treatment.

Twenty people have already approached Bernard Buckle, an independent councillor for Cowes on the Isle of Wight, who plans to organise a coach and ferry trip to Normandy for affordable treatment. He calls his project The Tooth Ferry.

Mr Buckle said yesterday that none of the 26 dentists on the Isle of Wight were accepting new NHS patients and treatment in France was considerably less expensive.

The cost of a private filling in France was €20 (£13.34) and UK private dentists would charge £50, he added. "There is greater competition for trade between dentists [in France] and they get much larger government subsidies."

The councillor has visited Cherbourg to begin organising the first trip, which he expected to run in about six weeks.

A spokesman for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight health authority said steps had been taken to improve access to NHS dental treatment on the island.

The spokesman added: "The NHS pays for all treatment that is clinically necessary to secure and maintain oral health. If a patient chooses a treatment option that is above and beyond what is clinically necessary, he is free to do so. By going abroad for treatment, the patient is seeking dental work in a market where private treatment costs are cheaper than in the UK private sector. "

A spokesman for the Isle of Wight council said that Mr Buckle was acting independently and not as a representative of the local authority, which was not responsible for health care.

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