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Lincolnshire residents without NHS dentists paying up to almost nine times as much for treatment

Residents without NHS dentist can pay up to almost nine times as much for treatment, it can be revealed.

With more and more dental practices in Lincolnshire converting to private offerings away from NHS care, an additional cost is being placed at the door of many residents who need access to a dentist, sometimes to the tune of more than double that of NHS treatment.

As the cost of living rises, the stresses and strains on the health system continue, and not many sectors of the NHS have felt this quite like dentistry.

Private dental patients can pay a lot more than NHS patients. Photo: iStock
Private dental patients can pay a lot more than NHS patients. Photo: iStock

Recent data reveals that some 75% of Lincolnshire’s eligible population had no access to an NHS dentist in the second half of last year, and as many as five dental practices have either cancelled their NHS contract or converted to private offerings in the past 12 months.

This has prompted more people to explore possible private dental care, but that naturally comes with an additional cost to jump the queue of long NHS waiting lists.

The NHS website provides a search tool for people to look for dental offerings in a specific area, and a search of Lincoln presents a worrying trend.

Coun Carl Macey, chair of LCC's Health Scrutiny Committee
Coun Carl Macey, chair of LCC's Health Scrutiny Committee

Of the 13 Lincoln-based dental practices displayed by this search, five are showing as not accepting new NHS patients, two are welcoming only under 18 patients, and three are only accepting for specialist care.

The remainder had no recent update to provide.

However, free NHS dental care is only eligible for certain groups, including people who are: pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months, under 18 or under 19 in full time education, being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist, receiving low income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low income benefits (income support, job seekers allowance, pension credit guarantee etc).

The Carlton Centre in Lincoln
The Carlton Centre in Lincoln

There are three bands of payment for NHS dental care, ranging from £26.80 to £319.10 depending on the scope of work required.

Band one is £26.80 and offers examinations and advice, as well as X-rays, diagnosis, a scale and polish, marginal filling corrections, treatment for sensitive teeth and roots, and adjusting false teeth or braces.

Band two is £73.50 and incorporates everything in band one, alongside fillings, extractions root canal treatment, gum and oral surgery, transplanting and splintering teeth.

Band three is £319.10 and includes both previous bands’ coverage, plus false teeth placement, restoring damaged teeth with inlays and pinlays, crown or bridge treatments, and orthodontic appliance treatment.

Your dentist can also recommend urgent treatment at a one-off cost of £26.80, which covers the likes of teeth dressing, removal of up to two teeth, draining an abscess, repairing crowns and bridges, as well as fixing a tooth that has been knocked out.

Comparatively, private dentists can offer a range of services or monthly membership packages, though that too comes at a price.

By way of example, private prices for one dental practice in Lincoln, seen by Local Democracy Reporters, show the difference in NHS and private cost plans.

Monthly memberships range from £11.49 to £38.16 depending on the additional benefits you get from each specific package, while one-off treatments themselves can vary from £60.50 for routine examinations, to up to £3,500 for an implant procedure.

This is where some of the standout differences between NHS and private care make themselves known.

On the NHS, something like a root canal treatment is priced at £73.50, but going private can see you pay as much as £630 for the same treatment - almost nine times as much - while emergency appointments cost £75 for private patients, and £26.80 on the NHS.

If it’s an extraction you are after, the NHS prices are around half that of this private practice’s offerings from £142, and crown placings are over double — jumping from £319.10 on the NHS to £686 when going private.

Even simple procedures such as X-rays or a clean and polish can even treble in cost when taken down the private route.

Just 50 NHS dental practices remain in Lincolnshire at the time of reporting, with East Lindsey boasting the most of any district in the area.

The breakdown is: East Lindsey 11, Lincoln 10, South Kesteven 10, West Lindsey 5, Boston 5, South Holland 5, North Kesteven 4.

Lincolnshire’s Integrated Care Board admitted to county councillors at a recent Health Scrutiny meeting that access to dental services “still remains a challenge” in Lincolnshire.

Indeed, the committee’s chair Coun Carl Macey said: “Access to NHS dental services is probably one of the areas most raised with me as a councillor, especially in Skegness, where residents are contacting local NHS dentists and being advised simply they are not taking on any patients.

“They’ve often then turned to private dentists, where in Skegness they’re actually saying the private dentists are full and you can’t see a private dentist either.

“It’s fantastic we’ve got these documents going forward, but it’s not helping the man or woman on the street. Communication seems to be one of the weakest areas.”

A practice in Lincoln has become the latest to notify its patients of a move away from NHS care and into the private sector.

Connor Gent, a 21-year-old land surveyor from Lincoln, says he was notified by his dentist at Lincoln Dental Practice, located at the Carlton Centre and managed by Rodericks Dental Partners, of the move to private from a mixture of NHS and private dental care offerings.

He received a letter which stated that patients have until September 12 before the transition is complete, but added that he was not given any information about other places that offer NHS dentistry in the area.

This, he says, has resulted in both he and his mother being unable to find a new NHS dentist, and leaves them both feeling worried as to what the future might hold if toothaches should arise.

“I was not Informed of anywhere to go, and I don’t quite know where I am going to go,” he said.

“Unfortunately I may have to pay the monthly rate for something I use maybe twice a year if that. My mum, however, is less hopeful and is not sure what she is going to do.”

Rodericks Dental Partners have been contacted on multiple occasions for comment, but no reply was issued by the time of publication.

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