Dentists are making a loss ‘on most NHS treatments’

LOCAL Dentists are losing money on the majority of their NHS treatments.

According to the British Dental Association (BDA) in Northern Ireland, dental teams carrying out treatments like fillings, crowns and extractions for NHS patients are costing them money.

The Department of Health said it supported dentists with both investment and increases in allowances and expenses, however, the BDA in the North said the fees paid to dentists providing NHS care are likely being outweighed by the cost to provide the treatments resulting in dentists making a loss.


“The increase in fees is not matching those increases in costs,” a Fermanagh dentist, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

“Our staff wages have gone up, as have our electricity and heating costs, because of the cost-of-living crisis. We’re suffering just like many businesses in the current climate.

“Yes, the fees have gone up a certain amount, which is good. But we are at the stage now where the cost to provide care is now more than we are being paid for that care.”

The future of NHS dentistry in the North already looks bleak as years of tighter margins and punishing schedules have forced many into the private sector to help keep their practices financially afloat.

Worryingly, recent BDA surveys suggest for every dentist leaving the NHS, ten are also reducing the amount of NHS work they do. And things could get even worse.

Following April’s budget, the Department of Health said it had been left £470m short of its estimated needs for this financial year.

The BDA said cuts would devastate a dentistry service already on the brink. The department said financial pressures were considerable and unprecedented.


In an open letter to the permanent secretary of the Department of Health last month, the BDA said that NHS dentistry in the North “is in crisis”.

In its letter to Permanent Secretary Peter May, the organisation outlines “bleak evidence from the front line” of patients struggling to access NHS dentists, and of lengthy waiting lists.

“If the axe falls on dentistry – indeed if there is a failure to provide needed investment – this service faces collapse,” it says.

It also says in the absence of a government at Stormont, it is calling on MLAs to “step up and protect the future of NHS dentistry across Northern Ireland”.

“The price will be paid by patients across Northern Ireland.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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