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Following the successful launch of the Patients Association (PA) Report, The New Dental Contract – full of holes and causing pain?, on 6 March 2008, Dr Roger Matthews, Chief Dental Officer for Denplan, the UK’s leading dental payment plan provider, supports the PA’s recommendation for a wholesale rethink of government dental policy.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, which examined Primary Care Trust (PCT) commissioning against the reality for patients since the introduction of dentistry reforms in 2006, Dr Matthews said: “Despite assurances by the Health Department that the new NHS dental contract is ‘workable and working’ , this evidence from the PCTs demonstrates clearly that in many areas, it is not the case.

“The Report shows that the management of NHS dentistry is at best very patchy and at worst, a lottery. Inflexibility, inconsistency and the limitations of the new contract have delivered nothing but misery for both dentists and patients alike.“

The Report highlights that:

· Preventive dentistry and the early detection of oral disease is in danger of being neglected;
· Funding is not generally sufficient, especially for specialist and orthodontic care;
· Patients are confused about the changes and are losing both registration and regular access to their dentist of choice;
· Many patients are only able to access emergency care for their teeth

Dr Matthews continued: “Widespread unhappiness by dentists and failure of quality of care, is reported by two thirds of participating PCTs. This is due partly to the inflexibility of the new approach, which has locked in a legacy of inconsistent payments and workload, limited freedom to provide the most appropriate treatment, and even limited dentists’ rights to sell their practices on retirement.

“Added to this, the government’s interpretation of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance, is effectively limiting many patients to two-yearly check-ups and diminishing their on-going relationship with a dentist they trust.”

The report also revealed that more than four in ten PCTs were unhappy with the funding for NHS dentistry, and over half were not convinced that they exemplified best practice in this area.

Loss of patient registration data and detail of treatment provided by dentists means that PCTs are navigating in the dark, unaware of patient numbers and are forced to rely on crude “Units of Dental Activity” (UDA) data for paying dentists.

About the PA Report

112 (75 per cent) of PCTs in England participated in the Report, under the Freedom of Information Act, which was funded by an educational grant from Denplan, the UK’s leading dental payment plan provider. It is the first publication of data to highlight the impact of the changes in the provision of NHS dental care from the PCTs’ perspective since the introduction of the new contract in 2006.

Those present at the launch included: Anthony Halperin, Chairman, Patients Association; Dr Lester Ellman, Chair, General Dental Practice Committee, British Dental Association; The r thon Edward Leigh MP, Chirman Public Accounts Committee; Edwina Currie-Jones, Trustee, Patients Association; Claire Rayner, President, Patients Association; Baroness Marsh of Ilton, Vice President, Patients Association; Peter Ward, Dr Ros Hamburger, Consultant in Dental Public Health, Heart of England PCT; Chief Executive, British Dental Association; Dr Derek Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Dental Practitioners Association; Mr Adrian Jenner, Clerk, Health Select Committee, The Rt Hon Lee Scott MP, Member of The Health Select Committee; The Rt Hon Paul Truswell MP; Ms Karen Taylor, Director of Health Value for Money, National Audit Office; The Rt Hon Sandra Gidley MP, Member of the Health Select Committee; The Rt Hon Andrew George MP; Baroness Gardner of Parkes; The Rt Hon Evan Harris MP; Mr Simon Howell, Director of Campaigns, British Dental Health Foundation; The Rt Hon Mark Hunter MP; The Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health; The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP; The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP.

- ends -

Notes to Editors:
About AXA
AXA is a world leader in financial protection. AXA’s operations are diverse with major operations in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific area. AXA employs 120,000 staff and tied agents and, as of 31 December 2005, had €1,064 billion in assets under management. AXA reported total IFRS revenues of €72 billion and IFRS underlying earnings of €3,258 million for the full year 2005. Our previous company performance is not a guide to how we may perform in the future.

AXA ordinary shares are listed on the Paris Stock Exchange; AXA American Depositary Shares (ADSs) are listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol AXA.

About Denplan
Denplan Ltd., part of the AXA Group, is the UK's leading dental plan provider with an approximately 80% market share. Denplan has more than 6,500 member dentists nationwide (around a third of General Dental Practitioners) and over 1.8 million registered patients. The company was established in 1986 by two dentists who pioneered the concept of dental payment plans. Today Denplan provides a range of plans for adults and children, enabling patients to spread the cost of their dental care through a fixed monthly fee. Denplan supports regular attendance and preventive care, reducing the need for clinical intervention and helping patients to maintain healthy teeth and gums for life.

Denplan Care: all routine and restorative care + worldwide dental A & E cover
Denplan Essentials: routine care only + worldwide dental A & E cover
Plans for Children: routine and other agreed care + worldwide dental A & E cover
Denplan Emergency: worldwide dental A & E cover only
Denplan Enhance: interest-free patient loans of £250 – £25,000 for dental treatment
Company Dental Plans: company funded, voluntary and flexible benefit schemes

Denplan also provides a range of professional services for its member dentists, including the Denplan Quality Programme, Denplan Excel accreditation programme and Denplan Training.

Patient enquiries telephone: 0800 401 402 Dentist enquiries telephone: 0800 328 3223

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