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National Audit Office 'must investigate' huge hikes in NHS patient charges

Local Dental Committees (LDCs) from across the country have urged the National Audit Office to investigate the exorbitant hikes in NHS patient dental charges in England.

Dentists accused the government of imposing a 'stealth' tax on the 'just about managing', and will question why an NHS dental examination in England costs 58% more than the same procedure in Wales.

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On 1 April NHS dental patient charges in England rose by 5%. Since 2010 nearly £550 million in government contributions have been cut from NHS dental budgets, with the difference plugged by inflation-busting hikes in patient charges. As a simple substitute for state investment charge increases do nothing to improve access, or address growing recruitment and retention problems plaguing the service. Last year official data revealed a million new patients across England tried and failed to secure an NHS appointment. BDA surveys have indicated 75% of NHS practices in England struggled to fill vacancies.

Vijay Sudra, Chair of this year's Local Dental Committees Conference, said: 'Dentists have had enough of charge hikes being used as cover for cuts. We're not tax collectors, and our patients shouldn't have to pay more just so Ministers can pay less.'

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National Audit Office 'must investigate' huge hikes in NHS patient charges. BDJ In Pract 32, 5 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41404-019-0111-7

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