Our patients live with reality. This publication includes information on the patients being served and NHS dental activity broken down by dental office. The British Dental Association (BDA) warns that an unprecedented drop in NHS engagement among dentists in England could mean the end of service without radical and urgent action by the government. During the Prime Minister's Questions last week, Rishi Sunak stated that, following the reforms to the NHS dentistry contract, “there are now more NHS dentists across the UK” with more funding.
According to the BDA, 75% of dentists in the United Kingdom are likely to reduce, or further reduce, their commitment to the NHS in the next 12 months. This means that almost two million people may not be able to access a dentist in their area. Dentists are private NHS contractors, which means that they purchase the building and equipment, hire all staff, and pay all operating expenses, including salaries, materials, and insurance, to provide an NHS dental service. It is worth noting that although Mr.
Sunak spoke of dentists “throughout the United Kingdom”, health is a devolved issue and the UK Government is only responsible for health services in England. The BDA also reports that 87% of dentists in the United Kingdom have experienced symptoms of stress, exhaustion, and other mental health problems in the past 12 months. If Mr Sunak was referring to figures from the last financial year, he is correct in saying that there has been an increase in the number of dentists working in the NHS across the UK. Despite this, England's dental director Sara Hurley has stated that anyone who has dental problems should contact their local dentist as usual.
However, it is not clear how many full-time NHS dentists there are currently and the total number of NHS dentists is lower than before the pandemic.