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Charge hike a slap in the face for hard pressed families

Another year, another round of stealth cuts.

We’ve lamented the latest increase in NHS patient charges. Once again the hike will not put a penny in the cash-strapped service, and is merely covering for government cuts.

Charges in England will rise by 4% from 1 April 2024. This will mean the cost of a band 1 treatment like a check-up will increase from £25.80 to £26.80, a band 2 like a filling will increase from £70.70 to £73.50, and a band 3 like dentures will increase from £306.80 to £319.10.

This matters. Our polling last year found nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents in England delayed or went without NHS dental treatment for reasons of cost. 45% said the price shaped the choice of treatment they opt for. Entitlements to free care are limited, with many Universal Credit recipients not being eligible.

Minister Leadsom says this hike – which follows last year’s 8.5% increase is proportionate. The reality is government has had a long-term strategy of using charges as a substitute for meaningful state investment. NHS dentistry’s budget has been effectively static at around £3bn for the best part of a decade, with patient charges forming an ever-greater share of the total pot until COVID. Direct government spend on dentistry was lower as the country headed into the pandemic than it was in 2010.

The collapse in patient numbers at lockdown required Ministers to increase their contributions to maintain the viability of the service. Last year’s 8.5% hike saw the return to a fatally flawed ‘business as usual’ model as far as funding is concerned.

“This latest hike is another slap in the face for hard-pressed families across England” says GDPC Chair Shawn Charlwood.

“This won’t put a penny in to bring NHS dentistry back from the brink. The Government is asking the public to pay more for less of a service.”

Since the hike was announced we’ve lifted the lid on what these stealth cuts have meant for the public and this service.

Our patients have footed the bill as charges rose by 45% in a decade, while the budget barely changed. The result is a £1.5bn black hole, had Government contributions even tried to keep pace with charge hikes.

We need real reform and fair funding. In just a month over 210,000 people have joined our joint petition with the Daily Mirror and 38 Degrees. Join them.

Another 70,000 have joined the call for this hike to be scrapped. You can sign here.