BDA pressures UK government to address oral health inequalities
LONDON, UK: In last month’s UK general election, the Conservative Party recorded a resounding victory, securing 365 seats to achieve an outright majority in Parliament. The British Dental Association (BDA) chair Dr Mick Armstrong has wasted no time in contacting the government, penning an open letter to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock on the topic of funding for NHS dentistry.
As outlined in the letter, the Conservative Party’s victory resulted in it taking control of many of the areas of England with acute oral health access problems. “Breaching the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the Midlands and North of England has seen the Conservative Party make headway in areas with acute access problems, including areas like Dewsbury in West Yorkshire where residents routinely receive support from the charity Dentaid: this charity normally operates in the developing world,” the BDA said in an associated press release.
In the lead-up to the election, the BDA had thrown its support behind the Labour Party’s proposal that, if elected, it would abolish charges for all dental check-ups in England. Though the plan was estimated to be likely to incur an annual cost of £450 million, it was designed to be “the first step towards making all dentistry services free of charge”, according to Jeremy Corbyn, then leader of the Labour Party.
Last year, Dental Tribune UK & Ireland reported that an estimated one million new dental patients in England are unable to secure an NHS dentist and that government spending on NHS dentistry per capita has fallen by nearly one-third since 2010. As Armstrong outlines in his letter, dentistry is the only part of the NHS to be operating on a lower budget than it was a decade ago.
“From Cornwall to Cumbria, from Devon to Dewsbury this government, and this parliament, have a responsibility to deliver for these patients and provide the reform and investment the service urgently needs,” Armstrong commented. “Dentistry cannot be the missing piece in the government’s NHS plan."