Contrary to advice on the radio today (Monday 15 Oct 2007) from health minister Ben Bradshaw, patients with dental problems unable to see an NHS dentist should not seek treatment from their GP says the British Medical Association.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee said: "Family doctors are not qualified as dentists and cannot pick up the pieces if there are not enough NHS dentists to go round."
Following media reports of patients unable to access NHS dentistry and even treating themselves, the health minister said on the Radio 4 Today programme that this should not be happening. There was now a duty on primary care trusts to provide urgent dental treatment. Mr Bradshaw said: "If people are in pain or need urgent treatment, they should go either to their GP or to their primary care trust and demand what is now their right."
"The health minister needs to correct that statement" said Dr Buckman. He will be writing to Mr Bradshaw to explain that GPs in general do not have the expertise to also act as dentists. "The government is constantly talking about increased access to general practice. Sending patients on a wild goose chase isn't going to help an already overworked service. Patients should contact their Primary Care Trust for help." said Dr Buckman.