Dental Costs Differ Drastically

All around the UK, dentist’s pay varies to such an extent that some are getting paid ten times the amount of others for similar work.

While dental pricing has been standardised using UDAs or Units of Dental Activity, it has been revealed that one UDA has a different cost around the country. Patients are charged from £26.33 in Doncaster PCT (Primary Care Trust) up to as much as £105.58 in Westminster PCT.

Regardless of this variation, one check up is one UDA, a root canal takes up 3 UDA’s and a set of dentures is 12 UDA’s. Consequently, it is believed that patients can pay significantly different prices for the same procedure.

The Conservative party, who obtained the figures, argue that these results undermine the NHS’ current system. Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, says the current contract, implemented by labour, ‘needs a complete overhaul if we are to turn things around’ and that ‘a Conservative government would scrap’ the system altogether replacing it with a ‘fairer’ system of its own.

The British Dental Association has contested the Conservative stance on the figures, pointing out that the higher costs might be separate payments for specialist work, rather than average dental costs.

A BDA spokeswoman also justified the geographical differences in price as due to deprived areas where dental treatment is more widely required.

BDA’s Chair of the general dental practice committee, John Milne, admitted that the current system is flawed in that “it is centred on targets, rather than providing high-quality care to patients”. He stresses that the independent review carried out by Professor Jimmy Steele should be “consulted on and piloted” to create a new system that benefits both dentists and patients alike.

Saturday 12th September 2009

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