Concerns over waiting list ‘to leave NHS dentistry’ in Northern Ireland

Concerns over waiting list 'to leave NHS dentistry' in Northern Ireland

Dentists are increasingly leaving the NHS in Northern Ireland (NI), according to the British Dental Association (BDA), with work down by 30%.

Ciara Gallagher, of the BDA, was giving evidence to Stormont’s health committee on Thursday, reports BBC News.

The committee heard that there was now a waiting list ‘to leave NHS dentistry’, as Ms Gallagher added that NHS delivery was down by almost one third.

In addition, she said rising costs and static fee payments fuelled the current crisis.

‘These fees are set by the Department of Health, who neither know, or have taken any meaningful steps to find out, the true costs to provide dental care,’ she said.

She added that ‘departmental affordability trumps all other considerations’ and so the issues within practices get ‘cumulatively worse’.

Ongoing backlog

In March this year, a survey showed that that three quarters (75%) of dentists in NI have reduced their NHS commitment since lockdown by an average of one quarter.

In addition, 88% said they intend to reduce – or further reduce – that commitment in the year ahead while 49% say they are likely to go fully private.

It also showed that only 20% of dentists report their practices as taking on new HS registrations. Around 39% of practices say they are operating at full capacity.

And almost two thirds (65%) cited higher needs patients requiring more clinical time as a factor constraining their practice from operating at pre-COVID capacity, reflecting the impact of the ongoing backlog.

Speaking at the time, Ms Gallagher said: ‘NHS dentistry in Northern Ireland is on its knees and the amalgam ban could be the final blow.

‘Dentists have told us they are working in what feels like the final days of this service – delivering Health Service care at a loss and developing private work simply to break even.’

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar