Letter: Doctors will follow where dentists lead

Sir: Virginia Bottomley states in her letter (29 June) that this country's dental service has been a great success story, and that she wishes to build on that success. How driving dentists out of the NHS can be described as 'building on that success' is a mystery to me and the majority of my colleagues.

Mrs Bottomley and the Department of Health (DoH) would gain far more respect and credibility if they came clean and admitted that the Government will not or cannot pay for a comprehensive, well funded dental service.

At the introduction of the new dental contract in 1990, Family Health Services Authorities were asked to advertise and stimulate demand for patients to register with dentists, and, as a result, the volumes of treatment have greatly exceeded targets. However, as there is a fixed pay pool for the General Dental Services, the DoH is effectively asking dentists to treat the large numbers of extra patients who registered free of charge by way of implementing the 7 per cent fee cut.

Few will dispute that a better system of dental remuneration is required; however, forcing dentists out of the NHS by implementing the fee cut is hardly a good starting point.

Yours faithfully,


(Dental Surgeon)


29 June