Access to dental care for all

18 Mar 2023
A dentist at work

“DIY dentistry on the rise”, The Guardian

“NHS dentistry at breaking point”, British Medical Journal

“People pulling out own teeth”, The Independent

These are just a few of the shocking headlines in the past year.

With NHS appointments scarce at best and in some places non-existent, people are being forced to spend hundreds if not thousands on private dental care. Now those who can’t are even resorting to DIY dentistry.

It is clear that our NHS dental system is completely broken and fault lies solely with this Conservative Government. They have done next to nothing to tackle this crisis.

The Conservative Government's efforts to increase the number of NHS dental appointments has made no significant impact. They have failed to address the shortage of NHS dental appointments and have refused to fund the system properly leading to a two-tier system, with those that can afford dental care and those that cannot.

The British Dental Association estimates that 3,000 dentists in England have moved away from NHS work entirely since March 2020 with many more significantly reducing their NHS commitment, and have warned of an “unprecedented” collapse, barring significant government intervention.

Tooth decay is consistently the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children and children from the most deprived areas are already three times more likely to have hospital extractions than their peers.

It is high time the NHS dentist contract is reformed and plans brought forward to recruit more local NHS dentists, so no matter where you live you know you can get the NHS dental care you need.

That’s why today, Liberal Democrat members have passed new policy which puts forward our plan to fix NHS dental services:

  1. Reforming and increasing funding for the NHS dental services contract, to ensure it:
    • Encourages and incentivises dentists to take on NHS patients,
    • Meets patient need and demand rather than arbitrary targets,
    • Puts an end to ‘dental deserts’.
  2.   Increasing the number of dentist training places in the UK and continued recognition of EU trained dentists’ qualifications.
  3. Writing into law proper workforce planning for health and social care, including projections for dentists and dental staff.
  4. Launching an emergency scheme to ensure children, pregnant women and young mothers have access to their free check ups on time.
  5. Supervised tooth brushing training for children in early years settings, such as nurseries.
  6. Removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and children’s toothpaste.

Everyone should be able to access an NHS dentist if they need one and no-one should be forced to face an impossible choice, between paying hundreds of pounds for private care or going without. Our plan would fix this mess.




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