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DHSS clarifies new NHS Dental arrangements 5 April 2006

The Department of Health and Social Security wishes to respond to the IOM Dental Association Notice appearing on page 7 of 24 March, 2006, edition of the Manx Independent, which contains some comments which are capable of being misinterpreted. In order to clarify the situation, particularly for patients, the Department makes the following points :

Patient Registration

Because NHS dentists’ pay after 1 April, 2006, will not incorporate an element directly related to the number of patients registered, the term “registration”, as it is currently known, will no longer be used. However, from 1 April, lists will still be maintained for each dentist of those patients continuing to receive ongoing dental care. Patients can, therefore, remain with their current dentist and receive the dental care and treatment they require. A small number of dentists intend to vary their NHS commitment, either by increasing or decreasing the number of patients they care for and appropriate arrangements will be made for any patients affected.

Patient Charges

For patients who normally pay for NHS dental treatment, a simpler method of calculating patient charges will apply from 1 April, 2006. Patients will pay one of three charges for a course of treatment, depending on the type of treatment and care required. The maximum charge for a course of treatment will be reduced from £300 to £189, and patients who are currently exempt from charges will continue to be so. Unlike in other jurisdictions, all Isle of Man patients receive free dental examinations and all patients over the age of 65 years receive all dental treatment they require, without charge. Whilst it is true that some patients will pay more under the new charge bands, some patients will pay less.

How often you have a check up

The frequency of check-ups for patients will be a matter for the dentist to determine, on clinical grounds, with reference to guidelines produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Those patients who have good oral health are unlikely to need a check up every 6 months, whilst patients with particular problems may need to be seen more frequently than every 6 months. The important point is that the frequency a patient attends for a dental check up will be determined by that particular patient’s needs.

Emergency Care

Patients will continue to be able to access emergency care from their dentist and emergency clinics for patients encountering a dental problem at weekends will continue to be run on a Saturday and Sunday morning. The change after 1 April relates to out of hours calls being routed through a central number.

Tony Jones, General Manager, Primary Health Care at the DHSS, said,

“I understand that the Notice published is, in most respects, a direct copy of one produced by the British Dental Association for areas of the United Kingdom. In that regard, the Department is extremely disappointed that the IOM Dental Association has made no reference to the extensive negotiations that have taken place with the Department resulting in a number of key changes being agreed in the contractual arrangements, as they are to apply in the Isle of Man. This flexibility is recognised both by the Department and the Dental Association as being favourable to practitioners in comparison to their UK colleagues and, most importantly, beneficial in terms of patient care.”

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