Dentists are reducing NHS work

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Half of dentists have cut NHS commitment with more to come

Half of dentists have cut NHS commitment with more to come. (Image: Shutterstock / DC Studio)
Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Tue. 7 March 2023


The British Dental Association share survey results, revealing over half of dentists in England report having reduced NHS commitments since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly 2,000 dentists responded to the BDA survey, with 74% stating an intention to reduce - or further reduce - NHS work. 43% indicate an intention to go fully private, with 42% likely to change career or seek early retirement. Over 1 in 10 are stating an intention to move to practice abroad.

This movement is not being tracked by official data, which counts heads, rather than commitment, and dentists who are doing only one NHS check-up a year carry the same weight as an NHS full-timer.

Every vacancy translates into thousands of patients unable to access care. Analysis of government data indicates that an unmet need for dentistry in 2022 stood at over 11 million people, or almost one in four of England's adult population.

Patients are struggling to get NHS appointments and are also being put off by the fear of either not getting an appointment or the cost. 6 million people have tried and failed to get an appointment, while a further 3.6 million patients didn't try, believing an appointment would not be available. Meanwhile, 1 million people are concerned about the cost of treatment, and 500,000 patients are on NHS waiting lists.

"NHS dentistry is running out of road" says General Dental Practice Committee Chair Shawn Charlwood. "Every day a broken system remains in force we lose dentists, while millions struggle to access care. "This crisis won't be fixed with soundbites or tweaks at the margins. To turn the corner, we need a plan based on real reform and fair funding."

The BDA comments that reversing the trend must begin with commitments to reform of the discredited NHS dental contract, underpinned by adequate investment.

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