The disturbing findings of Healthwatch Kingston’s recent survey report of local people’s experiences of NHS dentistry services during the Covid 19 pandemic has reached the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In a bid to kick start a Recovery Plan, the British Dental Association has thrown its weight behind the appeal with Healthwatch England for new funding to tackle the failure to provide services for many families and individuals.
Across the Borough of Kingston, people’s experiences revealed how dental services are not being delivered far too often. Dentists have been forced to prioritise the most urgent cases leaving many without appointments for the necessary dental care needed.
A local resident’s testimonial given to Healthwatch Kingston that is far from unusual shows the extent of the shortfall in services; “I love my dentists and know they are trying hard. However I've had an abscess for over a year now and been prescribed 3 courses of antibiotics with no follow up. The tooth is very bad and is now affecting the teeth around it as well as causing me ridiculous amounts of pain.”
Healthwatch Kingston has already communicated the issues to the Kingston and Richmond Local Dental Committee and now, these same challenges are part of the national agenda for the Government’s response, and Healthwatch Kingston will be monitoring development closely.
Healthwatch England's Update:
Healthwatch England have co-signed an open letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak calling for a recovery plan for NHS dentistry.
They have supported the British Dental Association in calling on the Chancellor to use the forthcoming Spending Review to provide vital investment in NHS dentistry.
Read the open letter from Sir Robert Francis QC, chair of Healthwatch England, and BDA chair Eddie Crouch.
Dental care for all who need it
The letter notes: Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve heard from patients up and down the country unable to find care for themselves and their children, leaving them in pain and taking matters into their own hands.
- From April to June 2021 public feedback was up 55% on the previous three months, and 794% higher when compared with the same period in 2020.
- Nearly four in five people (79%) of those sharing their stories said they had found it difficult to access timely care.
We are very worried that NHS dental care risks “vanishing into the void” as limited funds mean that dentists are struggling to offer services to all that need them, hitting people on low incomes hardest.
Patients deserve a well-funded system that delivers dental care for all those who need it.
Healthwatch England's chair Sir Robert Francis QC said:
“Lack of access to NHS dentistry has exploded as an issue for people over the last year, with both the volume of feedback and negative sentiment going through the roof.
“We’ve heard from patients up and down the country unable to find care, leaving them in pain and taking matters into their own hands.
“We’ve also heard from parents unable to register their children with an NHS dentist, as local dental practices weren’t taking on new patients, had gone private or had closed down.
“Every part of the country is facing a dental care crisis, with NHS dentistry at risk of vanishing into the void.
“The Government needs to use the forthcoming spending review to provide vital investment in services like dentistry that help keep us all healthy and ensure we build back better for current and future generations.”
Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association said: “In the last spending review ministers chose to make patients pay more into NHS dentistry, so they could pay less.
“These charges are now a substitute for decent state investment, with no attempt to even try and keep pace with demand or inflation.
“Ministers have pledged reform. Simply telling dentists to do more with less will not provide the care our patients desperately need.”
Locally in Kingston, we have been hearing about the problems our residents have faced trying to access NHS Dentists. We shared these experiences in our report 'A year with COVID-19: Experiences of NHS and social care services in Kingston before and during the Coronavirus pandemic'. You can read the full report here , and find our more.