How we could solve the cost of living crisis within NHS dentistry

Mohsan Ahmad considers the impact the cost of living crisis is having on NHS dentistry – and puts forward potential solutions.

Dental practices, as with all businesses, have been significantly impacted during the cost of living crisis. Utility bills have doubled in most practices, and a local practice to me is facing a rise from £8,000 to £21,000 per annum.

This naturally affects the day to day running of dental practices and means they may not be able to invest in certain things as much as they would in the past. Some practices have explained that they will be delaying scheduled general maintenance like painting and decorating to reduce current costs.

All staff have been affected by the rising costs and some have had to request pay increases to help manage their personal expenses. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in a lot of practices and has driven a significant number of dental nurses to leave the profession.

Several of my colleagues have explained how they are apprehensive to undertake expensive dental courses that they had planned for in their PDPs, because of the cost. Delaying them until they think it’ll be more financially viable to complete them.


Patients have been open about reasons for delaying certain treatments, if the tooth isn’t symptomatic or the pain tolerable, they would rather leave it until they feel they can afford it. This has often led to it getting worse, and they end up losing the tooth or it costs more to restore due to the delay.

The increase in NHS dental charges from the 1 April by 8.5% is likely to make things even more challenging for some patients. This is likely to only increase the already significant oral health inequalities across the country.


Practices will have to look at making more efficiencies in how they are run day to day, so they can try to manage the increases in cost.

I am aware of some practices ‘giving back’ parts of their NHS contract to free up time to see private patients who can help subsidise the contract they have kept.

These practices want to continue to offer NHS dental services but feel it’s impossible to deliver 100% with the current contract.


  • It comes down to remuneration, if dental teams aren’t remunerated properly than they will struggle to get through the crisis
  • Time to move on from contract reform, as minor tweaks and adjustments aren’t going to allow NHS dental services to survive. We need a new contract which has prevention at its core, where dental teams are made to feel valued and rewarded to provide this. Not only will this benefit our patients but also ensure dental teams are being remunerated to provide prevention rather than just putting out fires
  • A reward scheme for every five years dental team members provide NHS dental services, based on the number of UDAs they deliver or the number of hours they work
  • Access to the NHS pension for all dental team members would give long term incentives to staff members without an increase in cost to dental practices.

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