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NHS dentistry is ‘sinking ship’

NHS dentistry is ‘sinking ship’: The British Dental Association has warned the service is reaching the end of the road in evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into NHS dentistry today.

The Committee heard how a failed NHS contract and chronic underfunding have fuelled an exodus from the service, and that in place of reform government has delivered mere tweaks to the system without a penny of new investment.

Research undertaken by the BBC in 2022 revealed 9 in 10 practices were unable to take on new adult NHS patients. The latest BDA survey indicates over half of dentists in England (50.3%) have reduced their NHS commitment since the start of the pandemic. 74% now intend to reduce – or further reduce – the amount of NHS work they undertake this year.

Recent analysis of government data undertaken by the professional body indicates unmet need for dentistry in 2022 stood at over 11 million people, or almost one in four of England’s adult population.

Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, told the Committee:

“Recent tweaks to a failed contract will not stop the exodus of dentists and their teams from the NHS.

“A fundamental barrier has been funding. There is only enough NHS dentistry commissioned in this country for 50% of the population. Can you imagine if this was general medical practice? There would be rioting.

“What Ministers are doing at the moment is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while the service slowly slips into the sea. Without fundamental reform this service will not meet the demands of the British people.

“This really isn’t rocket science. Improve the terms and conditions, increase commitment through sustainable funding, and we will have NHS dentists again.”

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