26 October 2021

Lack of access to dental services ‘a problem felt in every corner of country’

26 October 2021

A lack of access to dental services is being felt “in every corner of the country”, a group of MPs has warned.

The group of more than 40 cross-party MPs raised concerns that funds to tackle Covid-19 backlogs will not be used to fix the “unprecedented challenge” NHS dentistry is facing.

The group, including Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Sir Peter Bottomley, said it was “crucial” that resources are in place to ensure recovery in dentistry.

In a letter to Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, they wrote: “Dentistry is now the number one issue raised with Healthwatch and our own mailbags can attest that lack of access to dental services is a problem felt in every corner of the country.

“As NHS dentistry faces this unprecedented challenge, it is crucial that resources are in place to ensure the recovery, underpin promised reform, and guarantee the long-term sustainability of the service our constituents rely on.”

The letter comes after the British Dental Association (BDA) and Healthwatch England warned that some children are struggling to access NHS dental care and risk being left in pain as dentists grapple with the backlog built up during the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been 30 million fewer dentist appointments than expected since the first lockdown and dental services will continue to feel the impact of the pandemic for “years to come”, they added as they called on the Treasury to take action in the forthcoming Budget.

It comes after Healthwatch England warned that some people will need to wait for up to three years for dental care while patients reported pulling out their own teeth or being told to use “DIY filling kits”.

Commenting on the letter from MPs, BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: “The breadth of voices here reflects the depth of the crisis facing families across England.

“Providing the funds to rebuild a decent NHS dental service isn’t a partisan issue.

“The Treasury has a choice, and investment here can offer a brighter future for millions of patients.”

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