Dentists charge patients up to £50 to cover cost of extra PPE
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Dental practices are charging patients up to £50 extra per appointment to cover the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dentists now have 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.
One patient, who did not want to be named, said he was charged £50 to cover the cost of PPE at a Norwich dentist’s surgery this week.
He said his dentist wore a face mask as well as a visor and plastic suit.
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The patient described the charge as “outrageous” and accused dentists of taking advantage of the situation.
He said: “I was horrified when I found out. I don’t understand how they can justify it.
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While private dentists may have the right to charge what they like, they surely have a moral responsibility to their patients who might find it difficult to go elsewhere.”
One of the country’s biggest dental companies, MyDentist, which has practices in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Thetford, North Walsham and Wymondham, told patients in an email they would be charged up to £35 for what it called a “covid safety supplement”.
It wrote: “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.
The £35 charge is only payable when there is a risk of a spray, meaning coronavirus could spread from droplets in salvia. That includes using a drill or airscaler. There is a £7 charge for other procedures.
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 and the cost of PPE had increased by up to 20 times because of demand.
However not all dentist practices have introduced the fee.
All Saints Green Dental Clinic in the city centre said it would not be charging customers extra.
We have contacted several other dentists in Norfolk to ask them if they will be introducing a similar charge.