NHS dentistry ‘will die’ leaving patients with ‘no options’ if practices continue to ditch health service ties, experts warn | UK News
Millions of patients could be left with “no dental options” as thousands of street dentists in the UK are “severing ties” with the NHS.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said if current trends continued “this is how NHS dentistry will die”.
The BDA says that as of March 2020, around 3,000 dentists are believed to have left NHS fully functioning.
Most dentists provide a mix of NHS and private oral care, but new figures suggest the balance could shift in favor of private delivery.
Access to NHS dentists is one of the main concerns of patients, with many unable to make appointments or forced to wait months for care.
Patient Safety Minister Maria Caulfield said the government had given the NHS £50 million to fund an additional 350,000 dental appointments, but Feryal Clark, Labour’s shadow health minister, told ” a decade of Tory mismanagement” for the service.
She warned that at the height of UK cost of living crisis“going private is simply not an option for many people”.
A new poll of 2,200 street dentists in the UK shows 45% have reduced their commitment to the NHS since the start of the pandemic.
The figures also show 75% “likely” to reduce, or further reduce, their NHS commitment over the next 12 months.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) said their practice had unfilled dentist positions while 87% said they had experienced symptoms of stress, burnout or other mental health issues over the past 12 months, according to a BDA poll.
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The expert body is calling for “radical and urgent” action from the government to help struggling dentists.
It said the NHS dental contract, which was started in 2006, is “targeted ahead of patient needs, effectively placing a limit on the number of NHS treatments a dentist can perform in a given period of time.” a year”.
Shawn Charlwood, Chairman of the General Dental Practices Committee of the British Dental Association, said: “Deprived and underfunded, thousands of dentists have left the NHS, but many more dentists have begun to cut them off. their relationship.
“This is how NHS dentistry will die, a prolonged and unchecked decline that will leave millions of patients with no other choice.
“This government has ensured that many dentists cannot see a future in this service. Without urgent reform and adequate funding, we have little hope of being able to stop this exodus. .”
Members of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee will consider issues in this area at a meeting on Tuesday.
The Secretary for Patient Safety and Primary Care, Maria Caulfield, said negotiations were underway to improve the contract with the British Dental Association to ensure working in the NHS remained “attractive for young people”. dentist”.
She added: “We’ve given the NHS £50m to fund an extra 350,000 dental appointments and we’re strengthening our workforce so people can get the dental care they need. need.
“As now we learn to live with COVID“