Dental deserts on the rise in England

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Dental deserts on the rise in England

The BDA has recently found that hundreds of dentists in England are doing only one NHS check-up a year. (Image: PH888/Shutterstock)

LONDON, UK: The British Dental Association (BDA) continues to press for urgent and fundamental reform of the NHS dental contract backed by sustainable investment in order to increase access to dental care in England. In the meantime, new research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows that a large number of patients are having a hard time securing a dental appointment.

According to the findings, some areas in England have over 3,000 people for every NHS dentist available. Additionally, it was found that, in 65 of 104 local areas in the country, there has been an increase in the number of people per dentist since 2019. In light of the findings, there is an urgent need to set up a rescue plan to increase access to dental care in the country and stop people turning to DIY dentistry.

The BDA has accused the government of failed attempts to collect data on “the true scale of the exodus from the NHS”. Its statistics on Units of Dental Activity (UDA) delivery for every NHS performer in England indicated that over 500 dentists are currently delivering only a single UDA a year. Additionally, polls conducted by the BDA show that 50.3% of dentists in England had reduced their NHS commitment since the start of the pandemic by an average of 27.0%. Finally, a recent analysis carried out by the organisation indicates that more than eleven million people had an unmet need for dentistry in 2022, which represents close to a quarter of the whole population.

“The Prime Minister keeps boasting of 500 ‘new’ dentists in the NHS—but, in fact, we have 500 doing just a single check-up a year,” Dr Eddie Crouch, chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said in a press release. “We need a reality check from the government, together with honesty, ambition and investment,” he continued.

NHS dentistry crisis

The NHS dentistry is facing a serious crisis that has led to lost appointments and dental neglect. For example, the BBC has recently reported on a patient who had to extract her own teeth and later set up a crowdfunding campaign to be able to afford a new set of dentures. Additionally, some patients are left with no other choice but to travel hundreds of kilometres for NHS dental care.

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