Scrapping patient charge ‘could cost £100m’
The SNP’s manifesto pledge to scrap the patient change, and consequent increased demand from patients, would require between £90m and £100m in funding, according to an analysis presented at the annual conference of Scottish Local Dental Committees (LDCs) and an estimation by the British Dental Association (BDA).
Kenny MacDonald, of Glasgow & Greater Clyde LDC, told the LDC conference last month: “The reality is that not only will the Scottish Government have to meet the cost of lost patient charge revenue, approximately £75m, but they will also have to fund the anticipated fresh demand for services.”
In 2019, the British Dental Association (BDA) undertook modelling work to look at the demand suppression effects that patient charges had in England. When using a multiplier on GDS budgets, said MacDonald, this indicated a potential cost in Scotland of £90m. In a letter this month to Maree Todd, the new Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, the BDA put the figure at £100m.
The pledge was also raised at the LDCs’ annual conference, with a delegate asking Tom Ferris, the CDO, how it will be implemented. He said that the short-term focus was on free dental care for care leavers and young adults, part of the SNP’s ‘100 days’ package of commitments, as well as funding for practices to upgrade ventilation, and on an interim model for funding for NHS dentistry as a whole.
But he added: “In terms of the free dental care [for all NHS patients], that’s tied up with the new model of care that we were hoping to do. There’s no point in having two major policy changes over the course of the Parliament – ie., ‘let’s make dentistry free and then let’s completely change the system of how we deliver dentistry’. Our view that system reform will bring in a new, preventatively focused, patient centred dental system that is free at the point of care, and we’ll do both things together.”