Dentistry now outside the Health Services for most of the nation

Dentistry is now outside the Health Services for most of the nation. Nicola Harley in The Telegraph reports 21st August 2015: Half of adults failing to go to the dentist – New figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal a drop in the number of people seen by an NHS dentist amid a rise in patient apathy

Half of adults have not been to the dentist in the past two years, it has been revealed, as health chiefs warned about limited access to NHS dentists – and a rise in patient apathy.

Figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed a drop in the number of people seen by an NHS dentist.

The number of dental patients in the two years leading up to April fell by 0.3 per cent to 30.08 million compared to the previous two-year period. The total comprised some 22 million adults – 52 per cent of the adult population – and 8 million children.

The data also showed that the number of children treated by an NHS dentist in the year to March 31 was 6.9 million, just 60 per cent of the child population.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said the data revealed “a decade of inertia” in access to dentistry.

“In the past two years approximately 50 per cent of adults and a third of children haven’t seen a dentist. Routine visits to the dentist are vital to maintaining good oral health.

“It’s appalling that tooth decay remains the most common reason why five-to-nine-year-olds are admitted to hospital; in some cases for multiple tooth extractions under general anaesthetic – despite tooth decay being almost entirely preventable.“Visiting the dentist regularly is crucial in providing rapid diagnosis and treatment to prevent both children and adults from being hospitalised due to tooth decay. The new Government needs to urgently review why access is not improving and launch a national campaign to stress the importance of seeing a dentist,” he said.

Adults are advised to visit the dentist between every three months and two years but the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends the maximum gap between appointments for children is 12 months.

London was the only region where the number of patients seen by an NHS dentist increased.

The South of England had the greatest number of people treated in the 24 months to the end of June, at 7.3 million – a 37.2 per cent share of all patients in England, which may be in part because the region has the highest success rate in obtaining a dental appointment.

The Royal College of Surgeoms said that the nation’s poor dental record was a combination of patient complacency about caring for teeth plus access to dental appointments, both of which need to be addressed by the Government.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of the consumers’ group Which?, said: “Our research shows just how difficult it is for patients to get an NHS dental appointment, as information about availability doesn’t reflect reality.

“The regulator must ensure the existing rules are put into practice, so people can easily find an NHS dentist.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Dentists, Medical Education, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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