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Independents' Day

It's high time the issue of GP dentistry was tackled

From Dr Paul Charlson

Brough, East Yorkshire

Your articles on dental problems (News, Clinical, 20 April) were informative but yet again do not tackle the thorny issue of what practices do when a patient rings up with toothache.

If I read the situation correctly, GPs should not treat dental conditions 'outside their expertise' and must put themselves in a position to assess the patient. The reality is most patients with dental problems either have a dental abscess, toothache due to decay, simple gum disease or ulceration.

A competent GP would be expected to treat all those things. Putting oneself in a position to assess the patient means in effect seeing them. Therefore, GPs will inevitably see increasing numbers of dental patients as the crisis deepens.

It will suit both the Government and PCTs to allow this to continue despite it being inappropriate. This is one of many instances where a free-at-the-point-of-use NHS service encourages misuse.

It is high time that issues such GP dentistry, medical tourism and the archaic prescription system were tackled.

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