D&S dental practice replies

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In response to last week’s letter, Dentists’ new rule raises concerns for NHS patients,  D&S Dental Practice would like to add the following comments written by Dr Mano Soltan:

“Davis and Seeley Dental Practice was acquired by Dr Mano Soltan in 2017, following the retirement of its previous owners, Dr Paul Davis and Dr Mike Seeley. The name was changed to D&S Dental Practice in 2019. Dr Soltan currently works at the practice two – three days a week, alongside four part time dentists, one full time dentist and three dental hygienists.

Some of the team at D&S Dental Practice

“To clarify the issue regarding a maximum of an 18 month time limit between appointments, please note that in England, registering with a dental practice simply means your name is added to their database and is not a guarantee of access to NHS dental appointments in the future. This is because government funding is allocated to units of dental treatment completed, and not as a capitation per person. Therefore, once a course of treatment is completed, no dental practice in England is obligated to see that patient again, whether their name is on the database or not. This information is readily available on the NHS Dentistry website.

“It is widely accepted therefore that if, after 18 months, a patient has not returned for a check-up or to complete a course of treatment (and has not contacted the surgery regarding any mitigating circumstances), their name can be removed from the database. This is a fair and equitable exercise, enabling the register to remain active and prioritises funding to patients who attend regular check-ups, as prescribed.

“Unfortunately, as a result of chronic underfunding and not enough qualified UK registered dentists to meet the ever increasing demand, NHS dentistry is in crisis. This has severely impacted the number of appointments available for NHS treatment. A recent analysis undertaken by the British Dental Association suggests that unmet dentistry needs stood at over 11 million people in 2022 alone, which accounts for almost one in four of England’s entire adult population.

“At present, 80% of dental practices in England are not taking on new patients. A combination of Brexit, the Covid 19 pandemic and the current inflation in energy costs, has led to many dental practices across England being forced to either close down entirely or to cease providing NHS treatment. The current funding received from the NHS and the contract requirements (including financial penalties) have made it almost impossible to provide dental provision in a financially viable way and to recruit and retain staff for NHS funded treatment. Those practices fortunate enough to remain open and providing NHS treatment, including D&S Dental Practice, have not been immune however to staff shortages and inadequate funding.

“We too have been forced into making difficult decisions in order to continue providing the service to the community. The 18 month time limit between appointments is sadly an example of the decisions we need to make, as well as implementing a penalty charge / deposit fee if patients fail to attend an appointment (for private appointments only), without prior notification. This is standard practice in today’s current climate. Research analysis strongly indicates that where penalty fees are implemented, ‘failure to attend’ appointments are significantly reduced. We recognise this may not sit comfortably with everyone, but without implementing special measures such as this, the practice would inevitably struggle to remain open.

“As a further point in response to Thomas Pierce’s letter, we would like to note that it is common practice to omit charges on dental practice websites. Those seeking NHS treatment can readily find the information they require on the NHS dentistry website and additionally, these are clearly displayed within our practice. Individual treatment plans are presented in both a verbal and written format.

“If you are concerned about the current crisis in NHS dentistry, you may be able to help by contacting your local MP and let them know how you feel. We thank Thomas Pierce for bringing this important issue to the forefront. However, this problem cannot be fixed by individual dental practices. It requires the community coming together, with a shared common interest to improve access and provision of our NHS dental services. At D&S Dental Practice, we will continue to serve this community, but we need a better long term solution, which can only be facilitated by the government.”

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This is especially worrying for elderly patients. I am 73 years old & have been a patient at D&S dentists for around 15 years. I wear upper & lower dental plates & have only three of my own teeth left. Because of this I very rarely need to visit the practice owing to not much left needing attention anymore. So now if I do need dental provision, in an emergency for example if I broke one of my three teeth. I will be excluded by the 18 month ruling.
    How about making an allowance for elderly patients who have minimal reason to attend the practice because they don’t need the same level of periodic attention.
    I am reminded of the days before our NHS existed when even young people would have all their healthy teeth removed just to avoid heavy dental costs in the future.
    What a sad state of affairs our health system has become under the present government.

  2. “ A combination of Brexit, the Covid 19 pandemic and the current inflation in energy costs, has led to many dental practices across England being forced to either close down entirely or to cease providing NHS treatment. ”
    It would be interesting to hear more about how Brexit has adversely affected dental practices. Possibly it’s the loss of free movement of people (labour) combined with lack of recognition of qualifications from EU countries?

  3. Essentially, the owner of D&S is confirming the 18-month rule is a way to boost practice revenue, because the NHS pays for actual treatment given, rather than having patients on a list. He’s also arguing that (like many other dentists, opticians, etc) the NHS funding for treatment is insufficient. Personally, I think that the £70.70 a NHS patient pays for a filling that takes 10-15 minutes is on the hefty side, but I tolerate it. Is the crisis in dentistry because dentists are not being paid enough (underfunding) a shortage of trained staff – with Brexit a factor – energy costs, the pandemic, or a combination of these? If the number of NHS appointments has reduced, has the number of private appointments also decreased, I wonder?
    The main issue is that given D&S has confirmed the 18-month rule, the practice needs to inform all its patients that it’s done this, rather than spring the decision on them at some time in the future. It shouldn’t be up to Rye News to alert people about this development, to be honest. There’s no reason NHS fees cannot feature on the practice’s website, or information about the new 18-month rule. I support the use of financial penalties for no-show appointments, however.
    What NHS dentistry provides is a safety net that has three treatment bands: £25 for a check-up, £70 for a filling and £307 for crowns, dentures and bridges. Without this system, dentists would be able to raise their fees to exorbitant levels — pretty much as vets have done with their fees in recent times. Dentists can currently charge for implants at £1,000 a tooth because this cosmetic treatment doesn’t fall under bands 1-3. While there does appear to be a crisis in training and recruitment, I suggest that a lot of the problem relates to the remuneration that dentists feel they should be making.
    I’d also urge that D&S moves to more modern, more spacious premises, as its current address in East Street is clearly unfit for purpose. The treatment rooms are tiny, the stairs are perilous for elderly people and so on. Why not rent premises at somewhere like The Hub on Rye Hill? There has to be somewhere in Rye that would be better suited as a dental surgery.

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