The British Dental Association yesterday wrote to all its members reminding them that they were part of a 'caring' service and that their argument was with the Government and not with patients.
In a statement yesterday the association said: 'There may be some confusion in the mind of the public as to the meaning of the result of the British Dental Association's ballot advising members not to accept new patients.
'No dentist wants to see anyone in pain not having that pain alleviated. Patients may have problems finding a dentist who will accept them for long-term continuing care; they should not have to wait a moment longer than necessary if they are in pain.'
The association has accused the Government of wanting 'privatisation by stealth' in the crisis over a 'clawback' of fees because the Department of Health decided that dentists had done too much work, pushing pay levels over agreed figures. Last week the Government announced a review of the way dentists are paid, chaired by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, former head of the civil service in Northern Ireland.
BDA leaders will have their first meeting with Sir Kenneth within two weeks.