NHS dentistry delivery still 15% lower than pre-pandemic levels

NHS dentistry delivery still 15% lower than pre-pandemic levels

NHS dental treatment delivery has still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with 2022/2023 treatment levels falling 15% behind.

This is according to a new parliamentary report into the state of NHS dentistry in England, which was released last week.

Latest estimates for 2022/23 show there were 32.5 million courses of dental treatment performed in England. This figure is around 15% lower than pre-pandemic figures for 2019/20, when 38.4 million courses of treatment were performed.

The report reads: ‘Funding for NHS dentistry is not currently allocated in line with need.

‘The government has said that it has commissioned work to understand the relative distribution of need for dentistry, which will inform future decisions about funding allocations.’

The report also looked at both adult and child attendance levels.

Since June 2019, the proportion of adults seen by an NHS dentist was lowest in June 2022, at 36.9%. Whilst this has since increase, the June 2023 figure of 40.7% is around one fifth lower than in September 2019 (50.9%).

The proportion of children seen by an NHS dentist was at its lowest level in June 2021 (32.5%). Similarly, this has since increased, but the June 2023 figure of 52.7% remains lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 57.9%.

The full report can be read here.

Health inequalities

This comes as a conference heard that GPs are being ‘inappropriately’ called upon to prescribe and treat dental conditions.

At the Local Medical Committee Conference in Newport in May, one doctor, GP Leanne Eddie, detailed an incident where a colleague prescribed antibiotics for an abscess that turned out to be oral cancer.

Eddie, who tabled the motion, said: ‘If GPs continue to handle dental overflow, health inequality will worsen.’

The British Dental Association (BDA) has said which ever party forms the next government must step up to end the huge knock-on effects the crisis in dentistry is having across the health service.

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