Hertfordshire councillor voices concerns over the impact of ‘massive’ charges for PPE on dental patients

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Hertfordshire county councillor and leader of St Alban’s District Council, Chris White, has voiced concerns over the impact of “massive” charges for PPE on dental patients. 

Mr White said that dental practices in the county are increasing dental fees, adding up to £35 to standard charges to cover the cost of buying PPE. Mr White said that he is concerned that some clinics are passing fees directly onto patients, which will make it more difficult for them to afford to see a dentist. 

Speaking at a meeting of the joint overview scrutiny and health scrutiny committee, Mr White highlighted the difference between dentists and other professionals who are using additional PPE, including hairdressers. While customers visiting a salon may be asked to pay a small fee of up to £5, some dental patients are expected to pay up to £35 more for treatment. There are already concerns about access to dental care and increasing prices is only going to make it more challenging for patients to afford treatment.

Jane Halpin, chief executive of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System, explained to the committee that dentistry was different to other industries, including hair and beauty, due to the nature of the services provided and the risks associated with carrying out aerosol-producing procedures. Ms Halpin also suggested that dentists were increasing prices to legislate for reduced patient numbers, as well as the hike in PPE costs. Currently, practices are not able to run at full capacity due to social distancing measures and infection control strategies, including fallow periods to clean between patients. Dental practices have experienced a vast reduction in income, and they may not be able to survive without increasing prices for patients.

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