Ministry of Defence slammed for limiting dental provision at health centre

Ministry of Defence slammed for limiting dental provision at health centreCalls have been made for the Ministry of Defence to reconsider its dental care offering at a health centre.

The Integrated Care Campus, at Catterick, North Yorkshire, hopes to improve health services for civilians and service personnel.

But one councillor said restricting access to soldiers was an ‘absolute scandal’, according to a BBC report. The Ministry has confirmed that it has no plans for the shared use of the facilities.

A North Yorkshire County Council meeting last week heard that the Ministry had instated 17 dental surgeries at the campus to handle influxes when soldiers are returning from or preparing for tours.

It was confirmed that an 18th dental surgery would be for community members unable to access dental care elsewhere due to mental or physical health. But some councillors slammed the Ministry for failing to share other surgeries when they are not fully utilised by personnel.

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A service in crisis

This comes as fears grow over the current cost of living crisis and its impact on an already over-stretched NHS dental service.

It recently emerged that one million pregnant patients missed out on free NHS dental access between 2020 and 2022.

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.

The drop in numbers is the latest reminder that NHS dentistry is failing to keep up with the current backlog of patients.

Professor Justin Durham is the British Dental Association’s chief scientific adviser. He added: ‘We need to see real urgency on reform of NHS dentistry so there is better access for all.’

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