NHS dentistry: Healthwatch England has co-signed an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

Healthwatch England has co-signed an open letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak calling for a recovery plan for NHS dentistry.
Dentist surgery cup and sink

Healthwatch England supported the British Dental Association in calling on the Chancellor to use this month's Spending Review to provide vital investment in NHS dentistry.  

Read the open letter from Sir Robert Francis QC, chair of Healthwatch England, and BDA chair Eddie Crouch.

Dental care for all who need it

Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve heard from patients up and down the country unable to find care for themselves and their children, leaving them in pain and taking matters into their own hands.

  • From April to June 2021 public feedback was up 55% on the previous three months, and 794% higher when compared with the same period in 2020.
  • Nearly four in five people (79%) of those sharing their stories said they had found it difficult to access timely care.

NHS dental care risks “vanishing into the void” as limited funds mean that dentists are struggling to offer services to all that need them, hitting people on low incomes hardest.

Patients deserve a well-funded system that delivers dental care for all those who need it.

"Many Hertfordshire residents have contacted us concerning the difficulty, and often impossibility, of getting NHS dental treatment during the past 18 months. Even those in great pain have struggled to access emergency treatment. The choice for many has been either pay for private treatment, which would severely impact their finances even if they could afford it, or remain in severe pain. That is not an acceptable choice."
— - Steve Palmer, Chair of Healthwatch Hertfordshire

Healthwatch England Chair Sir Robert Francis QC said: 

“Lack of access to NHS dentistry has exploded as an issue for people over the last year, with both the volume of feedback and negative sentiment going through the roof.

“We’ve heard from patients up and down the country unable to find care, leaving them in pain and taking matters into their own hands.

“We’ve also heard from parents unable to register their children with an NHS dentist, as local dental practices weren’t taking on new patients, had gone private or had closed down."

Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association said: “In the last spending review ministers chose to make patients pay more into NHS dentistry, so they could pay less.

“These charges are now a substitute for decent state investment, with no attempt to even try and keep pace with demand or inflation.

“Ministers have pledged reform. Simply telling dentists to do more with less will not provide the care our patients desperately need.”

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