Wales increases NHS dental fees

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Dentists fear DIY tooth extractions as Wales hikes NHS fees

The British Dental Association has warned that increases to NHS dental fees in Wales could have a profound impact on adults with low incomes. (Image:

Mon. 15. April 2024


CARDIFF, UK: The Welsh government increased National Health Service (NHS) dental fees on 1 April, and the British Dental Association (BDA) says it is possibly the largest hike in fees in the 75-year history of the service. Dentists say that the increase may exacerbate oral health inequities and lead to a greater number of patients pulling out their own teeth.

NHS fees in Wales for urgent oral care increased to £30.00 from £14.70 (€35.09 from €17.19*), a gain of more than 100%. The fee for a dental check-up increased to £20.00 from £14.70, and the charge for a dental restoration increased to £60.00 from £47.00. The cost of dentures went up to £260.10 from £203.00. Children and adults on low incomes receive free dental check-ups in Wales, as do adults younger than 25 years or older than 60 years.

The BBC reported that the higher prices are still lower than those paid by NHS patients in England; however, the BDA said in a press release that the impact of the fee increases “could be profound given the depth of socio-economic and oral health inequalities within Wales”. The association called for urgent consideration of reforms to current fee exemption thresholds to protect patients with low incomes and in great need of oral care.

Chairman of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee Dr Russel Gidney told the BBC: “£30 for a toothache appointment is not insignificant.” He said that adults on low incomes would have to seriously consider whether or not they could afford to access that level of care. He added: “You see stories of people taking their own teeth out because they can’t access care, and we’ll just see more and more of these stories come through with that rise in fees.”

Cases of DIY dentistry in the UK during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic were highlighted by Dental Tribune International in 2020, and The Guardian reported in late 2022 that the practice was feared to be once again on the rise, owing to a lack of access to NHS services.

“One of my neighbours actually pulls her own teeth out when it gets too bad. She’s pulled out three now,” Wales resident Sarah Dickinson told the BBC. In need of NHS dental care, Dickinson has been unable to access it since relocating to Caernarfon from England. “I don’t see how the government can put the prices up for NHS when you can never get appointments anyway,” she commented.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government told the BBC: “Despite pressures on our budgets, we continue to increase funding for dentistry,” pointing out that the increase was the first since 2020 and that funding for dental care had increased by £27 million since 2018.

Editorial note:

* Calculated on the OANDA platform on 15 April 2024.

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