A third of voters say dentistry is a top concern for the general election

10 June 2024

The British Dental Association (BDA) has said NHS dentistry is now at the forefront of voter concerns for the General Election. It says voters are calling for a plan to save the service.

A survey of voters in England by YouGov revealed:

  • A third of voters identified dentistry as a top local concern (28 per cent). Compared to 24 per cent for crime, 19 per cent for high street shops, 15 per cent for public transport, and 11 per cent for schools and education. Only the state of roads (42 per cent), GP services (40 per cent) and affordable housing (36 per cent) scored higher.
  • Four per cent of voters said the dental crisis will directly impact how they vote.
  • Respondents said dentistry is the hardest to access of NHS services. Seventy-one per cent described it as difficult, compared to 64 per cent for GPs, and less than half (42 per cent) for A&E.
  • Eighty per cent said the government should be doing more to improve NHS dentistry. This rose to 90 per cent among Labour voters. Only nine per cent believe the government is doing all it reasonably can.
  • One in five (21 per cent) said they have experienced pain for extended periods relating to their mouth or teeth since lockdown.
  • Seven per cent said they have attempted some form of DIY dentistry since March 2020.
  • Voters cited the cost of living/economy (63 per cent) and health (38 per cent) as their top concerns. The BDA said this explains the status of dentistry, where the cost of living and NHS access crises converge.

The BDA has called on all parties to offer urgency and ambition to save the service and prevent widening inequalities. It has set out its key priorities for the next parliament, on ending the access crisis, halting the exodus from the workforce and refocusing on prevention.

The professional body said that although the government has laid out its recovery plan, further changes are needed to ensure the service's survival.

Eddie Crouch, BDA chair, said, “NHS dentistry is now a top issue on the doorstep because millions have no options.

“Access and cost of living crises have collided, and thus far, the government hasn’t stepped up to the plate.

“Politicians might lose their seats if they fail to act, but voters risk losing this service for good.”