Dental services across Kent are under review – as one county MP claims it is “almost impossible” for constituents to access NHS care.
Health service bosses say the review “will determine the priority for future commissioning” at a time when many people say they are struggling to register with practices offering NHS treatment.
Ashford MP Damian Green has told KentOnline he has received numerous complaints from local people on the subject.
A recent report by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) identified Kent as one of the country’s worst ‘dental deserts’, with the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group providing just 45 NHS dentists per 100,000 people, one of the lowest figures nationwide.
Speaking in a debate on the state of NHS dentistry, Mr Green told the Commons: “It is almost impossible in Ashford to find an NHS dentist.
“My frustration and that of my constituents about this is compounded by the lack of response of the health service generally.
“From top to bottom, this system needs complete reform.”
The ADG report warns that the emergence of so-called ‘dental deserts’ will have a wider impact on health outcomes, since routine dental check-ups are a vital first line of defence against mouth cancers and type-two diabetes.
An NHS South East spokesman said: “Dentists have operated throughout the pandemic to treat those who needed to be seen urgently and anybody who is in need of urgent dental treatment will get that from a local dentist.
“Practices have seen a phased return, due to the requirement to follow national infection prevention guidance, to now operate at 95% of pre-pandemic levels resuming routine appointments.
“We are currently undertaking a review of dental provision in Kent which will determine the priority for future commissioning of services.”