Levelling up on health empty words without plan for dentistry
Politics / Wed 6th Oct 2021 at 08:08am
THE British Dental Association has warned Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s ambition to level up on health will be impossible to deliver without real ambition to reform a broken NHS dental service.
In his speech to Conservative Party Conference the Health Secretary failed to make any mention of the precarious state of NHS dental services. Over 30 million NHS appointments have been lost in England since the start of the pandemic, but even before COVID families experienced a postcode lottery of care.
Several cases have emerged in recent days of patients embarking on DIY dentistry. Danielle Watts of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – an area underserved by NHS dentistry for some years – told the BBC she removed 11 of her own teeth. Others in the region have reported removing 6 teeth, waiting 4 years to secure an appointment, and one woman in North Norfolk facing 7 hour round trips to access care in Kent.
While COVID restrictions have slashed capacity in the service, ongoing pressures have reduced access. The widely discredited NHS contract system funds care for little over half the population, and has left many areas including the East of England experiencing acute recruitment and retention problems.
The Health Secretary stressed “let’s make this the era of reform.” While government has already committed to reform NHS dentistry, the BDA has said Ministers must be ambitious, with no return to a ‘business as usual’ model where access problems were the norm. It has stressed steps must also be taken to tackle oral health inequalities which are expected to widen, given ongoing access problems, the suspension and disruption to public health programmes and the impact of sugar-rich lockdown diets.
BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:
“A levelling up agenda that fails to grasp the nettle on dentistry is just empty words.
“The crisis in this service predates COVID. It’s the practices unable to fill vacancies, patients struggling to secure needed care, and desperate people taking matters into their own hands.
“Ministers have a responsibility to ensure the grotesque spectacle of ‘DIY dentistry’ ends.
“We need more than slogans to deliver for millions of patients unable to access care.”
There's so much wrong with the dentistry services. A measure of a nations care for the poor and disadvantaged is seen by simply and literally looking into the mouths of millions, at the poor state of their teeth. People can't afford the fees and there's a loss of trust, for example a close relative was told after a fall there's no service available at PAH, then given the option to pay £700 for private treatment and only when this was questioned at NHS trust level told treatment was free at a dental hospital 20 miles away in London. This was done over months meantime another related problem was identified by local dentists, again with the recommendation for private treatment yet on visiting the Dental hospital was told there was no problem. On another occasion having visited and paid for a hygienist clean the following week when at a check up was told by the dentist to arrange a clean with the hygienist!!! The list of similar and worse is unfortunately is very long and that's just amongst close relatives: what's d 'scale' of the problem over the uk? . "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" well the uk, and it's not just teeth. Plus wasn't there once a school dentistry service that actually visited schools? Seems to have gone rapidly into reverse over the last 15 to 20 years when much of the good work being done then was condemned as being cosmetic and so was cut. A total reform is needed and dentistry services should follow nhs principles, be preventative care and all free at the point of delivery.