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One in 10 adults not able to access NHS dental services

Four million patients in England have failed to access care, are on waiting lists or have been put off accessing services

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

One in 10 adults in England are not accessing NHS dental services, because they have not been able to find a dentist, are on a waiting list or have been put off trying to access care, an analysis by the British Dental Association (BDA) shows.

The analysis, based on data from the government’s last GP Survey shows that over 1.4 million adult patients in England have tried and failed to access care and that a further two million are estimated to have not tried in the belief they would be unable to secure an appointment. Another 130,000 reported they are on waiting lists, and over 700,000 cited cost as a barrier to accessing NHS dental services. This brings the level of unmet need for NHS dental services to over four million people, or nearly one in 10 of the adult population, the BDA says.

Many of the worst affected areas are in parts of London and the South East, including the overwhelming majority of London boroughs, Brighton, and parts of Kent and Surrey. There are also “hotspots”’ elsewhere with a history of access problems – such as West Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cornwall.

The BDA's chair of General Dental Practice Dave Cottam said: “The public are entitled to access care, but the system is stacked against them. They face practices struggling to fill vacancies, NHS charges designed to discourage attendance, while our contracts cap patient numbers.

“Those losing out are the patients who need us most. The next government owes it to them to ensure this service has a future.”

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