Higher dental treatment charges proposed: Dentists' leaders say Green Paper unlikely to lead them back into the NHS. Celia Hall reports

REDUCED check-up fees but higher charges for complicated dental treatment were proposed in the Government's Green Paper on dental services yesterday, but the package of proposals is unlikely to bring disaffected dentists back into the NHS fold, their leaders said.

The Green Paper, Improving NHS Dentistry, sets out a range of simpler options for paying high street dentists.

Two, for the short term, are paying them by the session in a similar way to hospital consultants; or redesigning a system of fees to put more emphasis on prevention. This would move away from the current system in which the more treatments dentists carry out the more money they earn.

In the long term, but not before four years at the earliest, the Government wants to move dentistry into the NHS market, with local health authorities buying dental services from dentists in their area.

Michael Watson, spokesman for the British Dental Association, said that sessional payments looked like a 'salaried service by the back door' and that the Green Paper was disappointing. 'While it is true dentists agree that we need a new way forward, in all consultations with the profession they have rejected a salaried service. We cannot see this stopping the move into private practice.'

David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, said the Green Paper failed to end the uncertainty surrounding dentistry; 2,000 dentists had already left the NHS. 'I am particularly concerned that the proposals to move towards a sessional system will mean many dentists reducing the amount of time they give to the NHS. In effect, what is being signalled is the development of a two-tier dental system with a safety net for the very poorest - and the rest of us being forced to go private or sign up for costly dental insurance schemes.'

The dentists' dispute with the Government began nearly three years ago when dentists started to do 'too much' work, and as a result were being paid more than the sums set aside for them. A 7 per cent 'clawback' of payment was introduced and furious dentists began to refuse to take on new NHS work.

The BDA estimates that 60 per cent of dentists in London and the South-east have 'significantly reduced' their NHS workload. The figure stands at about 10 per cent in the North.

Introducing the Green Paper, Dr Brian Mawhinney, the Minister for Health, pledged free treatment for children and for those groups receiving benefit, as at present. He also pledged the continuation of the maximum fee for treatment. At present this is pounds 275. 'The Government proposes to develop and strengthen the community dental service to ensure there is an effective safety net where necessary,' he said.

Dr Mawhinney also published a set of targets to reduce dental decay by 2003 and said that the Green Paper consultation period would end on 1 October. But if it is decided to reduce the examination fee to encourage people to go to their dentist the money lost would have to be found elsewhere. The all-party health select committee recommended that patients should pay 100 per cent of the maximum for advanced dental work, including crowns, bridges, inlays and dentures.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
News
i100
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Lily James in ‘Cinderella’
film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - Infrastructure / VMWare - Hertfordshire

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established industry leading business is l...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Hertfordshire -Large Established Business

£22000 - £28000 per annum + study support, gym: Ashdown Group: A large busines...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss