Unmet need for NHS dentistry ‘hits record high’

More than six million adults failed to get an NHS dental appointment in the last two years, statistics suggest.

The profession has spoken out about the ‘government’s failure’ to honour pledges to introduce a recovery plan for NHS dentistry.

Analysis undertaken by the BDA of government data published last week suggests unmet need for dentistry in 2023 stood at over 12 million people, up a million on 2022 figures, and now well over one in four of England’s adult population.

This comes after the Health and Social Care Committee released a new report that described NHS dentistry as ‘unfit for the 21st century’.

It supported calls for fundamental reform to dentistry, publishing a list of government recommendations. These include urgent changes to the dental contract, the commission of a dental workforce survey, and incentives to attract and retain dentists within the NHS.

The latter could be the reintroduction of NHS commitment payments, incentive payments for audit and peer review and the introduction of late career retention payments.

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‘We need a rescue plan’

Shawn Charlwood is chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee. He said: ‘It’s the end of term at Westminster but ministers have failed to do their homework on NHS dentistry.

‘Record numbers are now struggling to access care. This service is going under and we need a rescue plan.’

The BDA has urged the government to sign up in full to the recommendations, with more than 1,300 dentists putting in an open letter to Health Secretary yesterday.

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