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NHS Dentists Shortage worsens over New Contracts

replace the old "drill and fill" treadmill.

Lester Ellman, chairman of the British Dental Association's General Dental Practice Committee, said that patients were opting for private care amid uncertainty about the future of NHS dentistry. He said 1,373 of the new contracts signed by dentists 'in dispute' are yet to be resolved out of 2,773 originally signed under protest.

He said: "At a time when the government is trying to increase access to NHS dentistry, the loss of any dentist to the service has an impact. These figures reflect the uncertainty felt by dentists and patients alike. The significant number of contracts that were signed in dispute and that are yet to be resolved, means that uncertainty is set to continue."

"At the current rate, it will be 2007 before all of these disputes are resolved. Dentists are frustrated by the target-driven approach of the new contract which fails to allow a more preventive approach to care. These figures do not provide any evidence that the government's reforms have achieved the aim of making it easier to find an NHS dentist."

Health minister Rosie Winterton said: "NHS dentistry is expanding - with Primary Care Trusts now commissioning more services than under the old contract. There is no shortage of dentists willing to come forward to expand their services or establish new practices."

"Many of the dentists who chose not to take up the new contract in April were not providing significant levels of NHS dentistry. What matters is not so much the number of dentists, but the level of NHS service they provide."


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