York Central’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell says (July 31) that she has a plan to solve the dental crisis: a ‘National Dental Service’ free at the point of use. Could she tell us how this would be funded? Each successive government since 1948 has tried to solve the nation’s dental problems without success.
Originally the ‘need’ for treatment was extensive and expensive and each government had to recognise that the ‘pot’ for dentistry each year was soon exceeded. There had to be restrictions on payments to dentists and inevitably there came a time when the profession could no longer afford to make sufficient profit to invest in new equipment, increase staff wages, and pay for postgraduate courses for staff to keep up to date, etc.
To train a dentist takes more than four years. In addition setting up a practice from scratch is now not possible for one dentist – and women in general prefer not to be tied into partnerships which could limit a family move. The trend now is for a group practice with each partner perhaps having a particular skill. Dentistry is perhaps unique in that diagnoses of problems are not always specific. One treatment may not be successful and another taken which adds time and money.
The public expect high standards, but to expect the profession to operate on a fixed budget and often to lose money on extended treatments is not feasible. I have no political lean in surveying the dental crisis but lament that the profession in which I had the pleasure to serve for some 44 years is in such disarray.
Julian Crabb, The Green, Upper Poppleton
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