Report by MPs calls for fundamental reform of NHS dental care

July 14, 2023

A new report published today by MPs into dental care has called for urgent reform so more people can access an NHS dentist.

The Health and Social Care Committee describes evidence of pain and distress due to being unable to see an NHS dentist as ‘totally unacceptable in the 21st century’.

Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP said:

“Rarely has an inquiry been more necessary than this one. To hear of someone in such pain and distress that they resorted to using pliers to extract their teeth demonstrates the crisis in NHS dental services. The problem is compounded by people being unaware of what they’re entitled to and a contract that is unfit for purpose when it comes to paying dentists for treating NHS patients. Today we register in the strongest terms possible our concern for the future of NHS dental services and the patients who desperately need access to them.”

Experiences of dentistry in Sussex

Dentistry, especially access to NHS dentistry, has regularly been one of the most common issues that people have told us about over the last two or three years, and it continues to be an issue raised with us.

Healthwatch East Sussex collaborated with Healthwatch Brighton & Hove and Healthwatch West Sussex to submit written evidence to the Heath and Social Care Committee of what Sussex residents told us about their experiences, alongside approximately 30 other local Healthwatch, as well as Healthwatch England.

Difficulties accessing NHS dentistry services have led to many people living in pain, and in some extreme cases, people take matters into their own hands, resorting to ‘DIY dentistry’. We also hear about people’s ongoing anxiety in not being able to get regular preventative and routine services such as check-ups and hygienist appointments, either for themselves or their loved ones.

The cost of living has also had an impact on access to dentists, especially for those already on low incomes. We have heard that some people are unable to afford NHS treatment fees, even where they are able to access services, with costs for private alternatives also out of reach for many.

What you’ve told us about your experiences of dentistry

You can read our previous reports on dentistry here:

Patients in Sussex share their latest experiences of dentistry with Healthwatch

Experiences of Dentistry in East Sussex

Experiences of Dentistry in East Sussex since March 2020

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