News publication Express has shared official figures which reveal trends in the NHS dental profession in 2020-2021.
During this time, 23,733 dentists performed NHS activity – a decrease of 951 on the previous year. This figure has been taken directly from NHS Dental Statistics for England – 2020-21 Annual Report.
The news publication’s article also highlighted that London, the Southeast and the Midlands were the worst hit areas. London recorded 4,179 dentists, down by 369, the South-East 4,136, down by 306, and the Midlands 4,341, a fall of 208.
There were 174 fewer NHS dentists in the East of England, 137 fewer in the North-west, 116 in the North-East and Yorkshire and 104 in the South-West.
It is also explained that “Some NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups were more affected than others.
“For example, North-West London saw the number of dentists drop by 141, Surrey Heartlands by 84 and Birmingham and Solihull by 62.
“The data was revealed in response to a parliamentary question by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, whose Kingston and Surbiton constituency is covered by the clinical commissioning group for south-west London, which lost 91 dentists.”
The British Dental Association (BDA) said dentists had left the NHS due to its failure to reward their commitment for more than a decade. Its chair, Eddie Crouch, said it will be made worse by rules brought in on January 1 to accelerate recovery from the pandemic, which mean NHS practices are obliged to meet 85 per cent of their pre-covid activity levels or face financial penalties.
Two-thirds fear they will not be able to reach the target.
Eddie said, “Even before covid, a growing number of dentists couldn't see a future for themselves in a service plagued by failed contracts and underfunding.
"That trickle is now set to become a flood.
"For over a decade, dentists have worked to a broken system that has failed to recognise and reward commitment to the NHS. Now they are being punished for it.
“Imposing fanciful targets in the middle of the Omicron wave could be the final nail in the coffin."
Eddie previously posted in August 2021 that dentists’ take home income had fallen by 40 per cent in real terms in the last decade.
This adds to the reasons for the drop in numbers, along with the raising of targets for the quarter commencing this January which will have undoubtedly pushed more dentists across the line to change their arrangements with patients to be outside the NHS system.
In a recent news article, GDPUK shared, "Dentists risk their homes to provide a dental practice; if the system makes an NHS contract likely to lead to business failure, they must change their business arrangements. Critics talk of the de-skilling of dentists that carry out NHS work, along with the lottery of accepting potentially loss making new patients, as well as the centrally imposed targets. All these pressures add up to gradual change across the nation."
NHS Dental Statistics for England is a biannual report, meaning that new figures will be available in February 2022.