Newspaper launches campaign for changes to NHS dentistry

22 January 2024

The British Dental Association (BDA) has greeted the Daily Mirror’s launch of a national campaign to save NHS dentistry.

With patients in Bridlington now facing nine-year waits for NHS care, ‘Dentists for All’ sees the paper throw its weight behind the calls for wholesale reform of the NHS contract.

The paper is making three demands:

  1. Access to an NHS dentist

“More than 12m people were unable to access NHS dental care last year – more than one in four adults in England. At the same time, 90 per cent of dental practices are no longer accepting new NHS adult patients.

“Data from the House of Commons Library showed 40 per cent of children didn't have their recommended annual check-up last year.”

  1. Restore funding for dental services and recruit more NHS dentists

“The UK spends the smallest proportion of its health budget on dental care of any European nation. Government spending on dental services in England was cut by a quarter in real terms between 2010 and 2020. The number of NHS dentists is down by more than 500 to 24,151 since the pandemic.”

  1. Change the contracts

“A Parliamentary report by the Health Select Committee has branded the current NHS dentists' contracts as “not fit for purpose” and described the state of the service as "unacceptable in the 21st century". The system effectively sets quotas on the maximum number of NHS patients a dentist can see as it caps the number of procedures they can perform each year. Dentists also get paid the same for delivering three or 20 fillings, often leaving them out of pocket. The system should be changed so it enables dentists to treat based on patient need.”

Eddie Crouch, British Dental Association chair, said, “A wealthy 21st century nation has seen its citizens pulling out their teeth with pliers, while others queue from the crack of dawn to access care”

“Underfunding and failed contracts, the crisis millions face is the result of political choices.

The Mirror is showing leadership we desperately need to see from Westminster.”