Dentists ask patients to pay up to £40 per appointment to cover PPE

Dentists are having to wear more heavy-duty PPE due to the coronavirus. Suffolk practices have asked

People in Suffolk have been struggling to find dentists willing to carry out NHS treatment Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some dental practices in Suffolk are charging patients up to £40 more for personal protective equipment (PPE) used during appointments.

Dentists are now required to wear more heavy-duty PPE such as large masks and suits when carrying out treatments which generate water droplets – to protect them from coronavirus.

But some have passed this cost on to patients.

Private healthcare giant Bupa, which has surgeries in Eye, Diss, and Colchester, is charging up £40 for what it called a “Covid safety tariff”.

“Unfortunately, we cannot bear the cost of PPE as a business and continue to offer the same range of services,” the company said on its website, adding that it is now spending 100 times more on PPE than it was last year.

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“So, we have made the difficult decision to introduce the safety tariff.”

The £40 charge, which the firm says is temporary, is only payable when there is a risk of a spray, meaning coronavirus could spread from droplets in saliva. This includes procedures like fillings, crowns and bridges.

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There is a £7 charge for other treatments.

MORE: Dentists request ‘urgent help’ as only a third reopenOne of the country’s biggest dental companies, MyDentist, has also brought in a ‘Covid safety supplement’ of up to £35.

It has practices in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Leiston, Sudbury and Woodbridge.

The company told patients in an email: “To ensure we can continue supporting our patients, we have had to introduce a temporary Covid Safety Supplement payable on each visit where you have a private dental treatment (excluding patients on dental plans), in common with many other dental providers.”

It said this was to cover the cost of extra PPE, such as masks.

MyDentist said the charges are only for private patients who do not pay through a private dental plan and does not include NHS patients.

“We will reduce or remove the supplement as soon as we can, and it will be reviewed in line with PPE costs,” they said.

They added they were not making any profit from the charge.

MORE: ‘A real kick in the teeth’ – Suffolk carers’ chief on Boris Johnson’s commentsAbbey Dental Practice, which has branches in Bury St Edmunds and Woolpit, said on its website that it too has brought in a temporary charge for private patients.

There will be a £22 fee for any appointment requiring the use of a drill or aerosol generating procedure.

A charge of £6 will be added for routine check-ups, hygienist appointments and any treatment that does not produce an aerosol.

A statement from the practice adds: “There has been a huge increase in the cost of all PPE equipment and clothing, consequently there will be a temporary charge to help cover this until the worldwide shortage ends.”

MORE: ‘It’s been a big learning curve’ – Furloughed workers on life in lockdown as restrictions easeMeanwhile surgeries run by Portman Dental Care, which has branches in Newmarket, Colchester, Harwich and Clacton, are also introducing an additional charge.

“When you visit any Portman Dental Care practice during the Covid-19, you’ll notice a surcharge on top of the usual fees,” the company said on its website.

“This contributes to the additional investment now needed to ensure continued safety measures are adhered to.

“This may only be for a short time and is something we will be regularly reviewing.”

The firm’s website does not specify what the surcharge is, with the additional cost instead incorporated into its fees.

• Have you paid an additional charge for dental treatment since the Covid-19 outbreak? Let us know via email.

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