NHS dentistry – why the shortages?

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  • NHS dentistry – why the shortages?
  • Premier Icon muddydwarf

    I’ve been asked by an American friend why there appears to be such a shortage of NHS dentists in the UK & i don’t really know why!

    Premier Icon geoffj

    Ethics or Cash – depends who you believe.


    In short, the contract offered to dentists by the Gov – though a proper gob doctor will explain it better than I (despite my login name).

    Hence the increasing numbers of patients with dental abscesses etc turning up in A+E.


    Because the shysters happily get a university education at our expense then naff off and work privately immediately afterwards shoving 2 fingers to the tax payer and the NHS

    Or alternatively the government doesnt value dentists and pay them for how hard they work and so it becomes so depressing the only option is to set up shop in a lovely private surgery with nice flowers

    Or something

    The sad thing is it perpetuates itself

    Private dentists will only get your business at ££££ rates if you have no NHS alternative
    Otherwise why would you pay?

    Its basic maths

    NHS dentists earn a lot less than private ones

    Hopefully a dentist will be along shortly to explain where Ive got it wrong


    Because the shysters happily get a university education at our expense

    I’ve got a university education – does that mean that morally I should only ever work in the public sector?


    You know, I fell for the whole ‘there are no NHS dentist available’ thing.

    A couple of years back, one of my team at work mentioned that he’d just signed up with a dentist as an NHS patient and how it had been easy. Having not been to the dentist for about four years after moving from London to Bristol (having never had any problems with my teeth), I thought that it might be sensible to see if I could find an NHS dentist.

    One phone call later and I was registered and had an appointment and that was that. A couple of other guys in my team did the same (in other areas of Bristol) and had similar experiences.

    It does make me wonder if the problem really is as widespread as reported or if it’s localised…

    It really is as widespread as reported. It’s appalling.

    Some years ago, after a 18 month gap since a check, my erstwhile NHS dentist refused to even look at my teeth until I’d agreed to first sign up for private treatment to fix any problems. Only after that would he agree to sign me up again to his NHS list, for unnecessary (yet obligatory) six month check-ups routine on the taxpayer.

    We don’t want and don’t need six month check-ups, but without them we are thrown out of the system, never to return. Why not spend NHS money on treating patients rather than providing unnecessary obligatory “check ups”, just to keep them in the system? It’s barmy.

    Needless to say I told him then where to put his dentistry, and haven’t been since. That was seven years ago. I have made some enquiries since, but there really are no NHS dentists!

    Rant over.

    Premier Icon eviljoe

    As someone who desperately needs a dentist (absess + broken filling) I’m just going to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and go private. My NHS dentist as made such a bish of my mouth, failed to explain properly what she was doing, and generally behaved like she wanted me out the door asap if I wasn’t private. It’s not just her, the last one was just as bad. It’s a problem that perpetuates itself, as when you’re treated this way, you don’t even want to go in for the check up. So I’m going to another, private dentist. You only get one set of teeth, so unfortunately they’ve ot you over a barrel. At least this way if they’re crap, I can take my teeth and my money elsewhere. It’s not right, but my face hurts….


    my nhs dentist just told me i don’t need to go every 6 months and said once a year was fine…


    our dentist kicks us out of we don’t go after 6 months. Plus when I didn’t go for a few years, I had to wait three months for a gap, and then had to pay private for all my treatment before they’d take me back as an NHS patient.

    I always assumed the shortage, round our area at least, was the same reason it’s hard to find a doctor but sitting in the dentists surgery I was surrounded by wiganers rather than the angry young european men that I find myself amongst at the doctors.

    Premier Icon crewlie

    There are good dentists and there are bad dentists.
    Some good dentists have high ethical standards and will work to the best of their ability regardless of financial reward.
    Private isn’t always good. Private isn’t always more profitable.

    Most dentists aren’t just in it for the money.
    But sometimes quality will cost more.

    NHS dentists contract isn’t designed to reward quality work.

    An NHS dentist will face investigation if his records show he/she is placing all patients into 6 monthly recalls. All patients have to be assessed on need, and recalled between 3 months to 2 years. If we vary from local averages we will be asked to explain why we are not following NICE guidelines.

    Premier Icon funkynick

    Last year I was expecting it to be hell trying to find an NHS dentist, but like clubber above, it took no time to find one, and was booked in for a checkup within the week. Have a look on the NHS website there is a services search where you can search for dentists in your area, and that shows if they are taking on new NHS patients.

    Also, my dentist told me that there was no need to come back in 6 months, a year would be fine, it was 6 months for my other half though…


    To be honest though, unless you need so much work that you go over the (think it’s about £400) NHS capped charges, private dentistry isn’t much more expensive. Maybe I’ve just got a good dentist, but I get everything explained in explicit detail, much better than my old NHS dentist.

    Not that I had much choice in going private, the nearest NHS dentist to me is 7 miles away.


    It does make me wonder if the problem really is as widespread as reported or if it’s localised…

    I had the same thought myself when I had exactly the same experience. Easy to find a dentist in Farnborough, Hants…..

    To be fair, a fair few of the whingers you hear about have not been to a dentist in years, and then complain when they can’t find an NHS one. If they’d carried on paying their £15 (or whatever it is) for regular checkups they would still be registered, and the dental problems they have would have been spotted sooner, thereby saving them money and pain.


    “Not that I had much choice in going private, the nearest NHS dentist to me is 7 miles away.”

    You’re lucky, the nearest any dentist is 18 miles from me.


    I do know that Sheffield currently has plenty of vacancies for NHS patients….. admitedly they are in some not so nice areas!


    My dentist went private, I called around 3 others in the area (Wigan) and they were all accepting, so I chose the nearest. I then moved to Scotland and was offerend two up here too, so I picked the one with the smartest dress sense. Makes me wonder where exactly the problems are?!


    You’re lucky, the nearest any dentist is 18 miles from me.

    yeah, should have added that I’m in Glasgow, which is in no way remote.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    NHS dentists contract isn’t designed to reward quality work.


    Plus with the capped charges aspect, and that lots of people only go to the dentist when lots of things are wrong (and/or they’re in abject pain), there are lots of cases where the amount paid to the dentist doesn’t even cover materials and lab fees, let alone their time. Even in cases closer to the average, given that an NHS dentist is expected to treat up to six fillings at the same price as one, they can’t do a proper job for the time/money available.

    Plus the contracts that NHS dentists have are rarely set at a suitable level, usually too low – so they run out of “NHS budget” before the end of the year and would have to sit on their hands if they didn’t ration it out.

    Thus not surprising that most dentists that do treat NHS patients will prioritise children, then adults who actually look after their teeth and have regular checkups (and thus don’t accumulate problems) over someone who’s not seen a dentist in a decade and wants it all fixed for £50.

    Blame the government, they used to let dentists get on with their jobs and picked up the bill for whatever needed doing.

    (not a dentist, but have several as friends)


    Anyone ever met a poor dentist? As in money, not skilz..

    I haven’t been to a dentist in 23 years. I’ve never had a toothache, and never need to visit a dentist. My teeth are fine.

    Quite a few are shysters. I met a woman once, who was working as a junior dentist, in a practice in London. The top bloke got her to do all his NHS work, while he did all the lucrative private work. She got paid a salary, while he picked up the cash for the NHS stuff. So, the NHS were paying for top-quality work, but getting an inexperienced junior doing all the work. Apparently this is very common. And a lot of ‘essential’ work is in fact purely cosmetic.

    IMO; all dentists should have to devote at least 50% of their standard working time, to NHS work. All logged and recorded, so they can’t scam it. If they want to earn money on top, then they can work weekends, like everyone else.

    You enter the medical world to treat the sick and injured, not to become super rich. If you want money, go into banking…

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