The National Health Service (Dental Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (“the Amendment Regulations”) will be laid before Parliament to increase National Health Service dental patient charges in England from 24 April 2023.
NHS dental patient charges provide an important revenue source for NHS dentistry and are typically uplifted on the 1 April each financial year. The most recent uplift was in December 2020, delayed from April 2020 due to the impacts of the pandemic. Whilst there has been no uplift for two years, the cost of delivering NHS dental care has increased.
From 24 April 2023, dental patient charges in England will increase by 8.5%. This means that a dental charge payable for a band 1 course of treatment will rise by £2.00, from £23.80 to £25.80. For a band 2 course of treatment, there will be an increase of £5.50 from £65.20 to £70.70. A band 3 course of treatment will increase by £24 from £282.80 to £306.80.
Details of the revised charges for 2023-24 can be found in the table below:
From April 2023 (proposed)
This band includes examination, diagnosis (including radiographs), advice on how to prevent future problems, scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care (e.g. applications of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant)
This band covers everything listed in band 1, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or extractions
This band covers everything in bands 1 and 2, plus course of treatment including crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work
This band covers urgent assessment and specified urgent treatments such as pain relief or a temporary filling or dental appliance repair
We will continue to provide financial support to those who need it most by offering exemptions to the dental patient charges for a range of circumstances. Patients will continue to be entitled to free NHS dental care if they are under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education; pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months; are being treated in an NHS hospital and have their treatment carried out by the hospital dentist (patients may have to pay for dentures or bridges); receiving low-income benefits; or, are under 20 and a dependent of someone receiving low-income benefits. Support is also available through the NHS Low Income Scheme for those patients who are not eligible for exemption or full remission.
Whilst we recognise the 8.5% uplift value is higher than uplifts to rates of some other government charges, we consider that this is proportionate, as NHS dental patient charges have been frozen since December 2020 whilst other similar charges, such as those for NHS prescriptions, have increased. Dental patients will benefit from the continued provision that this important revenue supports. In recognition of access challenges following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Social Care has delivered improvements to the NHS dental contract, announced in July 2022, which will improve access for NHS dental patients and which are supported by this uplift. These changes include a new requirement for practices to update the NHS website at least every 90 days so that patients can more easily see which practices are accepting new patients. We will set out plans to improve NHS dentistry shortly. It is important that current and future work to improve NHS dentistry is not undermined by the risk of reduced funding as a result of lower NHS dental patient charge revenue.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords