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Dentists hit out at plans to slash treatments on NHS

By Lisa Smyth

Treatments available from NHS dentists in Northern Ireland are to be extensively restricted under proposals being considered by health bosses.

Dentists have warned the proposals — subject to public consultation until April — will “drag dental health |services in Northern Ireland back 50 years”.

They believe the plans make a mockery of Government initiatives to address poor oral health in Northern Ireland, which is the worst in the UK. Health officials have argued they cannot afford the cost of NHS |dentistry and want to introduce a system where treatments are available |according to clinical need.

The cost of NHS dentistry in 2012/13 is forecast to be £12m greater than the allocated budget, so health bosses want to implement cost-cutting measures. Under the proposals, prior approval from the Business Services Organisation will be required before dentists can carry out a range of NHS treatments, such as root canals on molar teeth.

Orthodontic treatment will only be available on the health service in cases where intervention will result in |better oral health.

Currently, dentists can carry out orthodontic treatment on the health service when a patient suffers poor self-esteem as a result of their teeth.

Launching the public consultation on the proposals, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “I would like to reassure the public that all treatments will still be available to patients where they are clinically appropriate.” The consultation will run until April 3.

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