Open letter slams NHS dentistry

In the letter [found here], signed by a plethora of dental VIPs and opinion leaders and headed by Tony Kilcoyne, NHS dentistry frailties are exposed. The letter questions government statistics and says that 'nearly half of all adults walk around with deep gum problems in their mouths.'

Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer at the department of health was quick to comment saying: 'The improvement in oral health in this country over the last 30 years is something that the dental profession and the NHS should rightly be proud of. There is no credible evidence to support the suggestion that there is a "growing disaster" in NHS dentistry.

'Public Health England data, published in September, showed high levels of improvement in children's dental health. Between 2008 and 2012 the numbers of five year old children who were decay free increased by approximately 10% and access to NHS dentistry has increased by over 1.2 million since 2010. However we are not complacent, NHS England and the Department of Health are currently piloting new contractual arrangements for NHS dentistry, which will reward improving outcomes rather than just activity.

'Charges for NHS dentistry is not a recent thing. Patient charges for dentistry have been in place since 1951, however children and approximately 30% of adults are exempt from charges.

'Since 2000 dentists have not been able to administer general anaesthesia for tooth extractions in primary care. Elective general anaesthetics have to be carried out in hospital.'

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