The BDA says it is ‘appalled’ at claims from politicians that the NHS dentistry crisis is being worsened by immigrants.
The Telegraph reported on 7 February that Conservative MPs and Reform UK (formerly UKIP) said the high number of new arrivals in Britain was driving an ‘unquenchable demand’ for health services. Conservative backbenchers also encouraged prime minister Rishi Sunak to proceed with plans for tighter border controls based on the situation.
Richard Tice, leader of Reform UK, said: ‘Mass immigration has unleashed an unquenchable torrent of demand for doctors, dentists, A&E, hospital beds, houses amongst others. The British people are paying the painful price for the government’s betrayal on immigration.
‘It’s basic demand and supply economics. If you increase the demand and you don’t increase the supply then problems emerge.’
The British Dental Association (BDA) has criticised this claim on Instagram, saying it is ‘as offensive as it is inaccurate’. It continued: ‘We are appalled some politicians are blaming immigrants for the current crisis in NHS dentistry.’
General practitioner Dr Mark Porter said: ‘I live and work in a part of the country with almost no easily accessible NHS dental provision and very little immigration. This type of claim is just deflection.’
‘Immigrants did not refuse to fix a broken contract’
The BDA went on to offer alternate reasons for the crisis in NHS dentistry. It said: ‘Immigrants did not slash the dental budget by one billon pounds in real terms since 2010. Immigrants did not refuse to fix a broken contract fuelling the exodus from the NHS.’
Referring to the NHS dental recovery plan released on 7 February, the BDA suggested that choices made in government were the true cause of the crisis. It said: ‘We are seeing queues and people reaching for pliers because of choices made in Westminster. This government has wasted almost a year on a “recovery plan” that doesn’t pass the Ronseal Test.’
The BDA also pointed out that 30% of registered UK dentists in the UK qualified overseas. Several dentists have responded with evidence of the contribution of immigrants to the dental workforce. Pramod Subbaraman (@briteeth) said: ‘Immigrant here providing over 150 hours a month in NHS dental appointments.’
— Pramod Subbaraman 🦷 (@briteeth) February 9, 2024
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