Dentist staffing crisis as almost 1,000 walk away

Data acquired by the Liberal Democrats has revealed a growing dentist staffing crisis as almost 1,000 practitioners have walked away from the profession in the past twelve months.

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, first covered in the Express, was published in response to a Parliamentary Question by Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, who is calling for urgent action to ensure people can get the treatment they need.

Commenting, Ed Davey MP said:

The lack of NHS dentists across the country is a real crisis for people.

As well as being unable to sort out dental pain in the short term, people are storing up problems for the future without regular check ups.

The Conservatives talk a good game about the NHS, but leaving so many people without access to a dentist shows just how little they really care about the nation’s health.

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  • Jenny Barnes 10th Jan '22 - 1:49pm

    In my experience NHS dentistry has been unavailable for about 30 years. I suspect the same will happen to the NHS in general – yes it exists and theoretically does the job, but IRL you have to go private to get proper timely treatment.

  • Barry Lofty 10th Jan '22 - 2:32pm

    As someone who believes that the NHS has been a wonderful innovation and something our country should be proud of, but to be realistic it is becoming very dysfunctional for so many reasons. Our experience with NHS dentistry is that since Brexit and the return to their countries of many East European dentists, our local NHS dentists service and quality quickly evaporated, my wife needed urgent treatment and could not get an appointment let alone get the help she needed, which made us look urgently to the private sector which we did and were grateful for the marvellous treatment and back up we received, but what a worry for people who cannot afford to go private, well done Sir Ed for highlighting this huge problem.

  • It would be helpful to see the actual answer to Ed’s question and thus dig a little deeper.
    Is dentistry like GP’s and HGV drivers, where the demographics are such that there are too many rapidly approaching retirement and too few entering the profession.

  • Graham Jeffs 10th Jan '22 - 4:13pm

    The availability of NHS dentistry seems to have been on the retreat for decades.

    This is a serious problem, particularly for people who cannot afford private care – and why should they?

    Presumably dentists can make more money by excluding those on the NHS. To what extent can government reverse this trend and what steps should be taken?

  • Brad Barrows 10th Jan '22 - 4:14pm

    Forgive me correcting this article but the number of dental practitioners in the UK 2021 was not 23,733 – it was approximately twice that total. The number quoted in the number employed working for the NHS. The problem is not so much about us not training enough dentists but about us finding ways to encourage NHS dentists not to decide to move away from working for the NHS.

  • Jason Connor 10th Jan '22 - 9:43pm

    I just don’t understand why they are walking away from the NHS. Council tenants like myself and those of us on lower incomes pay for treatment anyway under bands 1 – 3. Many treatments like dental implants you can’t get on the NHS anyway so they can charge extortionate amounts for these procedures. Even crowns and bridges on the NHS are expensive. Many other EU countries are far cheaper. From my experience, some dentists will do a better job than others but I always check what I am entitled to under the band treatment and make sure they do it.

  • Jenny Barnes 11th Jan '22 - 9:12am

    The Tories’ only use for the NHS is as a lie on the side of a bus. Over on Conservative Home there is an article suggesting that the waiting lists could be reduced by encouraging people to take out private health insurance – and giving it tax relief!

  • David Garlick 11th Jan '22 - 9:40am

    Our NHS Dentist is superb. Debtists are leaving the NHS because they are being driven away as funding of dentistry on the NHS has suffered to the extent that Dentsists are receiving the same level of pay that they were 10+ years ago. This government, sadly supported by us during the coalition, has been driving a privatisation of the service through death by a thousand cuts for many, many years. Time now for the Lib Dems to get the accurate facts and challenge the Government to put NHS dentistry back on an economic footing

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