Dentistry on NHS 'close to collapse'

NHS DENTISTRY is collapsing and complaints from patients who cannot find a dentist are rising, the British Dental Association said yesterday.

Latest figures show the exodus of patients from the NHS is accelerating as dentists turn away non-paying patients. The number of adults registered with an NHS dentist fell by 2.6 million in the year to last December, a drop of 11.6 per cent.

Since 1992, when the Government cut dentists' fees, triggering the rush into the private sector, the number of registered NHS patients has fallen by almost 5 million to 19.7 million, a drop of nearly 20 per cent.

Half of health authorities in England and Wales say that NHS dentists are becoming harder to find, according to a survey published yesterday by the association. One in five of those seeking to fill salaried posts now advertises abroad.

The association, which has warned of the decline of NHS dentistry for many years, said the findings confirmed its worst fears. It said an extra 550 dentists were needed in England and Wales, on top of the existing 20,000, and urged the Government to invest an extra pounds 250m over five years to improve access for patients.

"We don't know whether those who have stopped seeing an NHS dentist are being seen privately or not at all. It is worrying but the Government is not taking it seriously. It is not a priority," the association said.

The 75 health authorities who responded to the questionnaire survey said they had received 55,000 calls from patients over a three-month period last summer complaining of difficulty finding a dentist. Half the authorities said the number of complaints had increased, a third reported no change and a sixth said calls had fallen since the previous year. Over half cited travelling distances for patients, which can be up to 50 miles, as a cause of problems.

The decline of NHS dentistry began more than a decade ago and an estimated one in four adult patients is now treated privately. Many dentists refuse to treat new adult patients on the NHS but still accept children. When a new NHS dental practice opened in Truro, Cornwall, last year, some people made a round trip of 100 miles to be put on its register.

The slow death of NHS dentistry has been brought about by rising NHS charges, which have accustomed patients to the idea of paying for dental care. NHS charges now cover 80 per cent of the cost of treatment up to a maximum of pounds 348.

The decline accelerated in 1992, when the Government cut NHS expenses payments. Dentists complained they could not afford to invest in new technology and that a two-tier service was developing between those who did private work and had the latest devices and those who stayed with the NHS and were forced to manage with outdated equipment in run-down surgeries.

The NHS charge for a check-up is pounds 4.76, and pounds 13.12 for a large filling. Typical private charges are pounds 15 for a check-up and pounds 25 to pounds 75 for a filling.

The Department of Health said it was trying to recruit more dentists.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links