One million pregnant patients miss out on free access to NHS dentistry

One million pregnant patients miss out on free access to NHS dentistry

Almost one million pregnant patients missed out on free NHS dental care amidst the current access crisis. 

Patients are entitled to free NHS dental care if they are pregnant when they start treatment, and for 12 months after the baby is born.

But new NHS statistics show uptake for both groups has crashed during the pandemic.

In the five years prior to the pandemic, an average of over 840,000 maternity claims were made per year. This plummeted to 245,967 in 2020/21 and to 490,298 in 2021/22.

This leaves an estimated 944,039 maternity appointments lost since lockdown.

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Real urgency

Professor Justin Durham is the British Dental Association’s chief scientific adviser. ‘Pregnant women and new mums are offered free dental care because the risks are plain and the benefits clear,’ he said.

‘Sadly, through the pandemic, close to a million women have missed out on taking advantage of free dental care. Missing out on free regular dental care can have a substantial impact on both the mother and child, and the most vulnerable in society are likely to lose out the most.

‘We need to see real urgency on reform of NHS dentistry so there is better access for all.

‘Any money saved should be re-invested in tried and tested programmes to improve both maternal and child oral health.’

During her leadership campaign, Liz Truss pledged action on dentistry in her first 90 days in office.

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