Patients face barriers to dental treatment
New research has revealed that patients with dental problems are facing barriers created by cost and access.
A study published in the British Journal of General Practice found that problems arose because there is easier access to GP services, people’s previous experience of dental care made them turn to GPs, and there is unwillingness and inability to pay for dental care.
Patients with urgent dental problems usually require some form of operative intervention, which GPs are neither trained nor equipped to provide.
It has been estimated that the 380,000 GP consultations referenced in the study cost the NHS £20.8m. Previous research has estimated 57 per cent of all patients with dental problems are provided with antibiotics, which are not a cure for dental pain. Surveys have shown that nearly one in five patients have delayed treatment for reasons of cost.
Dentist leaders have repeatedly warned that low-income patients are turning away from NHS dentistry. Official figures reveal a fall of two million treatments delivered to patients exempt from NHS charges since 2013/14.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen BDA Chair of General Dental Practice, said: “Dental patients face growing barriers, from higher charges to longer journeys, where even those entitled to free care face the threat of fines for misclaiming. The result is millions are being wasted, and pressure piled on overstretched GPs.”