Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has warned of an increasing crisis brewing in NHS Dentistry.
“I have constituents who already cannot get registered with an NHS dentist,” stated councillor Sykes. “As more dentists leave the NHS this is just going to make matter worse.”
Data acquired by the Liberal Democrats has revealed a growing dentist staffing crisis as almost 1,000 dental practitioners have walked away from the NHS in the past twelve months, citing years of chronic underfunding made worse by the pressures of the pandemic.
Official figures show there were 23,733 dental practitioners in 2021 – 951 fewer than the previous year, leaving more patients struggling to get the dental care they need.
The information was published in response to a Parliamentary Question by the Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey. The party is calling for urgent action to ensure people can get the treatment they need.
In local Integrated Care System area, which covers Oldham, the number of dentists has dropped by 32 in the past year.
Councillor Sykes said, “The lack of NHS dentists nationally and locally is a real crisis for people. Any loss of NHS Dentistry would be a disaster for people in our communities. Residents are concerned about their elderly parents and their children. It’s not just the fear that you won’t be able to get emergency care. Without readily available appointments, people are storing up problems without having them looked at.”
“Oldham’s dental heath is not good to start with this will just make matters worse. Poor teeth can be very painful and is totally avoidable with correct care and regular dental check-ups,” he added.
“Funding for NHS dentistry has been neglected by the Government for years, and we are now seeing the damaging results for both the public and dental professionals. So often it is the people who need these services the most, such as the elderly, those who live in remote areas and school children, who are the first to lose them because of government cuts. The Conservatives talk about protecting the NHS but leaving so many people without access to a dentist shows just how little they really value the nation’s health.”
The data is from Ed Davey’s Parliamentary Question, and the Minister’s response, which can be viewed here.