Government action needed to fix dental crisis

19 August 2022

Rishi Sunak has committed to “restore” NHS dentistry by ringfencing funding, strengthening prevention and encouraging dentists to stay in the health service. In last Thursday’s hustings Liz Truss said fixing the access crisis in GP and dental services would be among the top three priorities in her first 90 days in office.

We have stressed that the next Prime Minister must commit to urgent reform in NHS dentistry and prioritise action on the crisis. BBC research has revealed the scale of the access crisis, with 9/10 practices reported as unable to take on new adult patients on the NHS.

The Health and Social Care Committee was warned in May that NHS dentistry in England faced a ‘slow death’, with endemic recruitment and retention problems. BBC data shows that access in the seats held by both MPs is close to zero. No practices contacted in Norfolk are taking on new adult NHS patients, in North Yorkshire the figure stands at only 4%.

The crisis is being fuelled by a discredited NHS contract, which funds care for barely half the population and puts government targets ahead of patient care. NHS England recently announced modest, marginal changes to this system, however the changes, which come without any new investment, will not address the problems patients face accessing services or keep dentists in the NHS.

Dentistry is at a tipping point. The next PM must urgently commit to fair funding and fundamental reform. After a decade of savage cuts, we estimate it would take an additional £880 million a year simply to restore funding to 2010 levels. 

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

“Whoever takes up the reigns in Downing Street must act to end a crisis affecting millions, and we need deeds not words.

“The constituents of both leadership contenders have next to no options. The same applies to families in every corner of this country.

“This can’t be another exercise in rearranging the deckchairs.  Any progress will require real reform and fair funding.” 



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