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NHS dental care crisis

February 18, 2005 1:41 PM

NHS dental care in England is in crisis as new official figures show that over three in five adults and around half of children are not registered with an NHS dentist. With so many people going unregistered, the Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to 'get a grip' on the crisis.

The problem is not that people prefer to register with a private dentist or not register with any dentist, it's simply that there are not enough dentists accepting NHS patients. This is illustrated by the shock stories that have appeared in the media when patients have queued round the block to try to register with an NHS dentist.

Liberal Democrats are committed to rebuilding NHS dentistry and believe that urgent action is needed to ensure people have access to NHS dentistry.

  • We will work with the Dentistry profession to ensure that the new contract delivers more dentists working in the NHS
  • We will focus on NHS dentistry on prevention by scrapping the 'drill and fill' payment system and replacing it with a payment per patient
  • We will ensure that NHS dentistry promotes good dental health and will scrap the charge for dental check-ups
  • We will, as in other areas of health provision, stop the excess Whitehall meddling in how dentists care for their patients.

We support the latest moves by the Government to reform the way in which dentists are paid - it is a pity that it has taken so long for the Government to get to this stage. They should have focused on this much earlier instead of their sticking plaster solution of dental access centres, simply to meet Tony Blair's 'promise'.

Recently talking to a NHS dentist in Southampton Itchen, the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary spokesman for Itchen, David Goodall, found that there were concerns as to how the payment system would work in the long term and whether dentists would be asked to do more work for the same money. Therefore David says

"It is vital that the government listen to the concerns of dentists and act on those concerns"

"The government must ensure that dentists are supporting proposals, and that all underlying problems are addressed, otherwise they will only succeed in driving more dentists into the private sector and away from the NHS"

Also commenting on the NHS Dentistry service in Southampton local resident Andy Rowlands said:

"Since moving to Southampton I have tried to find a NHS Dentist in my locality but with no success, despite what Southampton City Primary Care Trust state on their website:

'Southampton has a number of Dental Practices that provide treatment on the NHS'

As I refuse to pay £40 for a private check up or to subscribe to the £100+ a year Denplan scheme, I am having to go without Dental checkups until such a time that Southampton has adequate NHS Dentistry."