Public giving up on NHS treatment
Britons are giving up on NHS dentists, with a million more people saying they have not been to see one since the Government brought in a new contract in April 2006.
The new agreement for dentists have attracted a huge amount of controversy with people complaining they can no longer find one who works within the NHS.
An analysis of NHS figures carried out by the Conservatives reveal that up to September 2007, 23.16m people had not seen an NHS dentist in the previous two years.
This was up 4% (or around 840,000 people) on the 22.32m who did not see one in the two years up to March 2006 – before the contract was introduced.
The figures suggest that almost half the population of England did not see an NHS dentist in the two years to September 2007.
Figures from the NHS Information Centre also show that the number of admissions to hospital for dental treatment have been on the rise.
The regions where there was the biggest increase in the number of people without an NHS dentist tended to also have a bigger increase in the number of hospital admissions for NHS dental treatment, said Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.
"We know that there are people out there who are pulling out their own teeth because they can’t find a NHS dentist.
"These shocking figures are proof that Labour can’t negotiate a contract with NHS professionals.
"Dentists are being forced out of the NHS and some patients clearly have no other option but to take their dental problems to hospital A&E, a service which is already under great pressure."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "Anybody having difficulty finding a dentist should contact their local primary care trust."
She said 80% of primary care trusts now have dedicated helplines to arrange access to a local dentist and trusts have arrangements to help anyone needing urgent dental care.