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Dentists to be offered more cash to see NHS patients from March 1





Dentists will be offered cash incentives from this month to take on new NHS patients.

The government plan is designed to make millions more appointments available but how exactly will the scheme work?

The plan should help one million more patients see a dentist. Image: iStock.
The plan should help one million more patients see a dentist. Image: iStock.

What’s changing?

From March 1 dentists will ‘benefit’ says the government, from extra money if they see new NHS patients.

Participating practices will be given payments of either £15 or £50 for every new patient treated – depending on the care they require.

The money applies for appointments taken by any new patient who has not seen an NHS dentists for the past two years and is on top of the existing money practices get.

Dentists, says the new rules, will need to offer ‘core’ NHS services which could include an examination, diagnosis or treatment to be eligible to claim the new patient premium.

The money will be paid automatically once they've treated an adult or child who hasn’t received any NHS dental care in the previous two years.

Dentists will get extra money for treating patients who haven’t seen an NHS dentist in two years. Image: iStock.
Dentists will get extra money for treating patients who haven’t seen an NHS dentist in two years. Image: iStock.

Why are dentists being offered extra cash?

Getting an appointment to see an NHS dentist has become increasingly difficult in recent years. And with increasing numbers of stories of people taking treatment into their own hands, the government has come under pressure to act.

Giving money to practices to take on new NHS patients is part of a new combined government and NHS plan to create 2.5 million more available dental appointments across the country over the next 12 months.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I want to make access to dentistry faster, simpler and fairer for patients – particularly those who have not been able to see a dentist in the past two years.

“This scheme is good for patients and good for dentists. It will see millions more appointments made available for those who need them, while also rewarding those dentists who are taking on new NHS patients.”

The patient premium will range from £15 to £50. Image: iStock.
The patient premium will range from £15 to £50. Image: iStock.

How can I get an appointment?

The scheme is being designed, says the government, to improve the oral health of those ‘who do not have an existing relationship’ with a dental practice.

This meanst to qualify you mustn’t have seen an NHS dentist in the past 24 months.

It is estimated that the new offer of more cash will mean that around one million new patients around the country will be able to get access to appointments they may not otherwise have been able to find.

Jason Wong MBE, Interim Chief Dental Officer for England, said: “Good oral health remains essential for good general health and now more patients will be able to access NHS dental services thanks to the majority of dental practices across England being eligible to introduce new patient premiums.”

However it will be down to individual dentists to decide if they want to take up the offer of the extra cash – so will still rely on households being able to find a local dentist opening their books to more NHS patients.

The NHS website can help people search for a dentist but Louise Ansari, CEO at independent group Healthwatch England said it should now be down to the NHS to show people locally which dentists may be available.

She explained: “It’s now important that the NHS makes it easy for people to find out which dentists will be offering new appointments based on the two-year criteria, so they only seek appointments from the relevant practices.

“NHS commissioners of dental services should also promote these new appointments to people who have struggled to access care in recent years, especially those on lower incomes, women, and some ethnic minority patients.”



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