Dentists earn more than half their income from private patients because of rising fees and the growth of cosmetic treatments, a new study says.
Higher private prices and the popularity of treatments unavailable on the NHS, such as white fillings, implants and teeth whitening, explain the increase, stated the independent report.
However, the British Dental Association queried the findings. The BDA said that the growth in private healthcare had been driven by rising patient expectations, not higher fees.
The report was published in UK Dental Care. The author, Philip Blackburn, an economist with Laing & Buisson, found that since 1998 the proportion of patients paying privately “on the spot” has remained relatively unchanged, though the number enrolled in private dental benefit plans has grown strongly. He said: “Income from private patients has grown from 38% to 51% of total income, as higher private fees have driven up income levels at the same time as NHS fees increased only marginally.”
Despite Government policy to make NHS dental care more accessible, the number of NHSregistered adults is 1.5 million less than in 1998 and five million lower than its peak in 1993/94.