BDA analysis shows one million new patients unable to access NHS dentistry

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BDA analysis shows one million new patients unable to access NHS dentistry

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As NHS spending continues to fall, more patients find themselves unable to secure an appointment with an NHS dentist, according to the BDA. (Photograph: gpointstudio/Shutterstock)

Tue. 12 February 2019

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LONDON, UK: Recent data published by the UK government shows that an estimated one million new dental patients in England are unable to secure an NHS dentist, according to the British Dental Association (BDA). Its findings have been published at the same time as new figures indicate that government spending on NHS dentistry per capita has fallen by nearly one-third since 2010.

The BDA analysed the results of the 2018 GP Patient Survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NHS England, which collated feedback from 369,474 English patients, including 42,869 new patients. The trade union found that nearly one in four of these new patients not currently registered with an NHS dentist tried and failed to secure an NHS appointment last year. Furthermore, certain areas were worse affected than others, with several parts of the county of Lincolnshire reporting that more than 40 per cent of new patients were unable to successfully book an NHS dental appointment.

The BDA also conducted its own national survey of dentists and found that 59 per cent of dental practitioners based in England are planning to either scale down or shut down their NHS work entirely within the next four years. Those with greater NHS commitments seem the most likely to leave, as 67 per cent of dentists with a proportion of NHS patients greater than 75 per cent expressed their intention to move on.

In addition, parliamentary questions raised by MP Peter Dowd showed that the government’s current spending has fallen by 29 per cent when adjusted for inflation compared with the nearly £42 per person it spent on dental care in 2010. These funding cuts have been offset by increases in charge levels that, according to the BDA, have risen by more than 30 per cent after inflation since 2010.

“High street NHS dentistry is on the brink, and it’s the patients who need us most who risk losing out,” said Dr Eddie Crouch, Deputy Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee.

“Across England, practices are now unable to fill vacancies, as a system of unforgiving targets pushes talented colleagues out. The result is hundreds of thousands of irregular attenders—many with poor oral health—are falling through the cracks,” he continued.

“These aren’t just patients seeking a regular check-up. They are often people in pain, left without the care they need. Dentists were looking for a lifeline in the recent ten-year plan, but were offered little more than a footnote. The practitioners who have done most to support the NHS—and the patients who need them—are now paying the price for that indifference,” he concluded.

One thought on “BDA analysis shows one million new patients unable to access NHS dentistry

  1. Pat says:

    Private practice pays better, our island is overcrowded

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