NHS dentistry ‘at tipping point’ with warning that patients will ‘pay the price’

The majority of NHS dental practices in the UK are unable to offer appointments to new adult patients, according to a survey.

The British Dental Association (BDA) and BBC identified 8,533 dental practices across the UK that were believed to hold NHS contracts, and attempts were made to call them all.

Overall, practices in Wales had the least availability – with 93 percent not accepting new adult patients.

Across England, this figure was 91 percent, rising to 97 percent in the East Midlands, and 98 percent in the South West, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

In England, 79 percent of NHS practices were not accepting new child patients – 4,293 of 5,416.

The calls made by the BBC found that across Northern Ireland, 90 percent of NHS practices were not accepting new adult patients.

For Scotland it was 82 percent.

Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, said: “NHS dentistry is at a tipping point, with millions unable to get the care they need and more dentists leaving with every day that passes.


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“We’re seeing the results of years of chronic neglect, set into overdrive by the pressures of the pandemic. The question now is will ministers step up before it’s too late?

“Nothing we’ve heard from government to date gives us any confidence this service has a future.

“Without real reform and fair funding NHS dentistry will die, and our patients will pay the price.”

The BDA previously said that since March 2020, some 3,000 dentists are understood to have moved away from NHS work entirely.

Six monthly dental check-ups in Wales were scrapped last month in a bid to clear the ongoing backlog in the service, with our new chief dental officer, Andrew Dickenson, claiming that the checks were an “outdated” practice.

In parts of Wales, people have reportedly experienced days’ long waits for emergency dental treatment.

Additional reporting: Rebecca Wilks

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