Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Dentists pained over new £900 'tax'' on surgeries

A new Government tax on dentists is set to bolster the health service coffers by £150,000 in just 12 months.

Over 100 dental surgeries are breaking the law and risking hefty fines by refusing to sign up to the new regulation system which is threatening to bring the Northern Ireland dental service to its knees.

Dentists are outraged at being forced to pay more than £900 per practice for a regulation system that will largely replace work already being done by the Health & Social Care Board and duplicate work done by the General Dental Council.

Minutes from a board meeting of the health watchdog that will oversee the regulation process reveal it will receive more money than it requires to implement the controversial system.

The director of operations at the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority (RQIA) said it will receive £400,000, "but would only require approximately £250,000 to complete the work and thus the remaining £150,000 could be offered as an efficiency".

So far, only two-thirds of practices in Northern Ireland have applied for the new registration procedure which came into force on April 1 this year.

It applies to any dental practice which carries out any proportion of private work.

Under the process, dental practices must provide details of income, a doctor's report to state they are fit and able to run a practice, a letter from a bank manager to say they are financially solvent, and they must undergo inspections by the RQIA.

Criminal background checks on dentists are also carried out.

Some dental practices with thousands of NHS patients on their books are threatening to close their doors altogether as a result of the new legislation, which was introduced to ensure quality.

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