New figures show a decrease in free dental treatments for Leeds patients

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New figures suggest that there has been a significant decrease in free treatment provided for dental patients in Leeds this year.

According to statistics from NHS Digital, the number of units of free treatment claimed by adult patients in the city has fallen significantly. The latest bi-annual report indicates that in the first six months of 2019/2020, adults received 46,968 free courses of treatment. This represents a drop of 6,184, which equates to a 12% reduction. In comparison with 2013/2014, the earliest data on record, there has been a 36% decrease. 

The British Dental Association has criticised the government for the system used to claim courses of treatment that are exempt from fees and suggested that thousands could have been put off going to the dentist by the complex processes involved in claiming and the risk of being fined. Hundreds of people, many with disabilities and learning difficulties, were wrongly fined for filling in the form incorrectly last year.

The figures in Leeds are reflective of a national trend, with the number of courses of free treatment dropping across England. However, worryingly for health providers in Leeds, the average decrease was 6%, which is markedly lower than the fall in the city. 

Free dental treatment should be available for pregnant women and women who have given birth within the last 12 months, full-time students and low-income patients that claim specific types of benefits. Patients who think they may be eligible for treatment are encouraged to check the NHS website or to ask their practice staff for advice. NHS England has recently released a video campaign that highlights the fact that not everyone who claims benefits is entitled to free NHS dental treatment. 

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