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Poor dental treatment.

We have all seen TV pictures from Scarborough where people were ready to queue round the block for a chance to register with a new NHS dentist and doubtless we thanked our lucky stars that it wasn't happening here.

The latest figures provide the good news that one in five Huddersfield dentists are accepting new NHS patients - or, put another way, the bad news that four out of every five are not.

Focusing again on the positive, that means that you have twice the chance of getting an NHS dentist in Huddersfield than you have on average elsewhere nationally.

But none of this statistical juggling and special pleading can alter the fact that the dental part of the NHS is looking anything but safe in New Labour's hands.

The reasons are many and controversial. Certainly the closure of two dental schools before New Labour came to power made things worse by reducing the number of newly trained dentists. Certainly Government imposition of a contract on dentists, followed by a 15% cut in fees two years later, has alienated the dentists - and a new Government contract is due to be imposed again, without consulting the British Dental Association.

What the Government seems to have lost sight of is that dentists are independent practitioners who can choose how much of their working lives they want to spend within the NHS.

Treat them this way and is it any wonder that they are increasingly opting out?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2004
Previous Article:Joanne Harris .. As you've never seen her before.
Next Article:Level best.

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