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by Kirsteen Paterson
27 July 2023
NHS dental charges 'likely' to rise as Scottish Government agrees reforms

NHS dental charges 'likely' to rise as Scottish Government agrees reforms

NHS dentists are to get enhanced fees under a new Scottish Government payment structure.

But the British Dental Association (BDA)says the reforms still mean the service is still a "broken system".

Changes to the fees provided for many treatments will come into force from November. The number of treatments available to NHS patients will also be reduced to address workload problems for dentists.

The changes come after the BDA warned spiralling costs meant practices were delivering some NHS care, including for dentures, at a financial loss.

The Scottish Government says the updates will "drive greater consideration of patients' specific oral health needs" and put more focus on preventative care for issues like gum disease.

However, patients who are required to pay an NHS charge are "likely" to see their costs go up and the BDA argues the changes will not address oral health inequalities.

Around 40 per cent of patients will continue to receive free NHS care and treatment, as they did under the previous arrangements.

Public health minister Jenni Minto said: "We are confident that the modernised system, with increased clinical freedom for dentists, will provide longer-term sustainability to the sector and encourage dentists to continue to provide NHS care.

"All patients will continue to receive free NHS dental examinations and I want to reassure those who are exempt from NHS dental charges, including children and young people under 26 and those on certain benefits, that they will continue to receive free care and treatment. People on a low income are also eligible for support, details of which can be found on NHS Inform."

Thanking NHS dental teams, she went on: "Increased costs for energy and the cost-of-living crisis still pose challenges for them but we will continue to work together to ensure the best quality of care is available."

However, David McColl, chair of the BDA's Scottish dental practice committee, called the system "broken", saying the changes would not "close the oral health gap", help more patients access services or stop dentists ceasing NHS services. 

He commented: "The Scottish Government have stuck with a drill-and-fill model designed in the 20th century. They were unwilling to even start a conversation on making this service fit for the 21st.

"Ministers cannot pretend this is a final destination for NHS dentistry in Scotland."

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