A new dental contract introduced by NHS dentists last year, has left Health Trusts short of nearly £56million, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The figures from a local survey of health trusts show that almost three quarters of Primary Care Trusts have received much less money than they had expected to get under the new system.
In an effort to make up this shortage, PCT may try to re allocate money from other services provided by it, such as sexual health and immunization. Most of the PCTs services are projecting a shortfall in money and the new contract seems to be set to affect patient care hard.
Commenting on these figures, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb MP said:
"The new dental contract has been a disaster for local health trusts as well as for people looking in vain for an NHS dentist.
"As NHS trusts desperately move money around to fill the gap created by the dental contract, the axe will be swinging over so called 'soft targets' such as sexual health treatment, alcohol services and immunisation. With sexually transmitted diseases and alcohol abuse in young people on the rise, this is not a shortcut we can afford to take.
"The reality of NHS dentistry around the country is a stark contrast to the Government's bland assurances about universal access.
"The NHS is struggling to balance the books around the country in a climate of endless and often contradictory reform. Yet the Government is introducing yet more volatility into the system.
"This is a shocking example of an ill-thought out reform wreaking financial havoc on the health service."
The dental contracts were introduced in England and Wales last year on April 1, and were intended to give local primary care trusts more control over dentists.