Hundreds of dentists only doing one NHS check up a year

The BDA has called new figures into NHS dentistry a ‘work of fiction’, warning that the reality is far worse due to gaps in official data.

New Commons Library research shows how a rise in ‘dental deserts’ has left people struggling to get an appointment.

The data shows that some areas now have more than 3,000 people for every NHS dentist. For example, 65 of 104 local areas in England have seen the number of people per dentist rise since 2019.

But the BDA has responded to new analysis commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, warning that the picture is, in reality, far worse.

It suggest the data is a ‘work of fiction’, given the government has never attempted to collect data on how much NHS work these dentists perform. It argues that most dentists combine NHS and private work.

Unmet need

The BDA’s analysis of official data shows hundreds of dentists are doing the equivalent of a single NHS check-up a year.

The number of dentists delivering a single unit of dental activity (UDA) in 2021/22 was more than 500. There are fewer dentists performing higher volumes of NHS dentistry in 2021/22 than in 2019/20, with the proportion performing more than 5000 UDAs falling by more than half.

Recent analysis undertaken by the BDA shows unmet need for dentistry in 2022 stood at more than 11 million people. This equates to almost one in four of England’s adult population.

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Reality check

British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘Dental deserts are on the rise, but the true scale of the exodus from the NHS is going untracked in official data.

‘The Prime Minister keeps boasting of 500 “new” dentists in the NHS. The reality is we have 500 doing a single check-up a year.

‘We need a reality check from government, together with honesty, ambition and investment.’

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