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There are various problems associated withan open market, which would remove the NHS status of some dental patients andencouraging patients to take dental insurance. This would essentially compelmany patients to seek private dental care. There are n...

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There are various problems associated with an open market, which would remove the NHS status of some dental patients and encouraging patients to take dental insurance. This would essentially compel many patients to seek private dental care. There are numerous problems with the private dental sector, which include the lack of competition in the market. At the moment, there is a wide variation in cost for seemingly comparable services in a market, indicating that charges levied are not governed by the prices charged by other suppliers or by the costs of doing business, and therefore it can be concluded that the market is not subject to effective competition. This is a major problem for patients, as they are often overcharged for oral care, which could be reduced by effective competition between private dentists. Secondly, there is a lack of price transparency in the private dental market. Price transparency is essential to enable consumers to make rational choices between dentists and types of treatment on offer. It is a prerequisite for effective competition either between private dentists or between NHS and private treatments. There is a need for further investigation into the availability of price information for private dental treatment. A Warwickshire Trading Standards Service (WTSS) survey found that only two out of 20 dental practices provided a list of prices that was made available to private patients. ...read more.


By 1999, those figures had changed to fifty eight per cent and eighteen per cent respectively. Such figures demonstrate the extent to which dentists are now spending their time providing private treatment. In the DoH strategy paper on dentistry, 'Modernising NHS Dentistry' (September 2000), it was stated that at that time approximately one third of Health Authorities reported serious problems in finding dentists for at least some of their residents. Research published in the British Dental Journal in February 2001 provided further evidence of access problems in some parts of the country. This research indicates wide regional variation in the proportion of private treatment. The median percentage of private patients was around 50 per cent in the south east and south west, 30 per cent in London, 20 per cent in the West Midlands and eastern counties and less than 10 per cent elsewhere. Although there has been some improvement in the level of access to NHS dental treatment, the fact that some patients are unable to obtain NHS treatment does nevertheless increase the importance of ensuring effective competition in private treatment. In light of these problems, it would be unfavourable to employ an open market, which would remove the NHS status of some patients and encourage patients to take out dental insurance. The present NHS dental system consists of a two-tier system, consisting of the NHS and private dental care. ...read more.


Furthermore, patients will be charged a maximum of �120 per treatment, a figure that is decidedly lower than the �378 at present. A further change will be with regards to the dental budget, which is currently held by local government, and will be given to local primary care trusts. This will reduce the amount of paperwork, as the care trusts will have contracts with the dentists. The Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary highlighted the problems of the NHS by stating that, ' finding a NHS doctor is like finding a needle in a haystack. It seems that those lucky enough to find a NHS dentist will have to pay more for the privilege of doing so'. In view of the above arguments for and against the NHS and private dental sectors, it would seem that the government requires a system, which balances the rights of all patients, regardless of income. There is an evident need to recruit more dentists into the NHS, and private dentists must have an acceptable level of competition in order to reduce prices. From the three systems, the present system is probably the most viable option, although there is a need for a more modernised structure, which will allow all patients' access to a NHS dentist. An alternative system could be to introduce a system similar to the tuition fees system in place for higher education, whereby dental patients would be charged in accordance with their household income. This would dispose of any inequalities in the system, with regards to poverty. ...read more.

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