Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters NHS dentistry

General practitioners are doing dentists’ work

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 15 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1088
  1. Alastair Bint, general practitioner
  1. 1St Luke’s Surgery, Guildford GU1 3JH
  1. al{at}

For some time patients have been finding it ever harder to register with an NHS dentist and especially to see a dentist outside of core working hours. I have noted an increasing stream of patients needing to see a doctor for what is essentially a dental problem.

I therefore audited the work of our practice, which has 10 000 registered patients. I analysed all dental related consultations during the two years 1996-8 and 2006-8, discovering a 1600% rise in their number over this 10 year period.

There is no provision in the NHS contract for general practitioners to be remunerated for dental work, despite health minister Ben Bradshaw’s advising patients who could not get dental treatment to visit their general practitioner.

My audit results may be a symptom of declining dental availability. They also show, once again, how general practitioners are left to pick up work that should be performed by other professionals without adequate remuneration.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

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