As someone seeing a fair bit of my dentist at the moment, it is interesting to read data – acquired by the Liberal Democrats – which reveals a growing dentist staffing crisis.
It seems almost 1,000 dental practitioners have walked away from the NHS in the past twelve months, citing years of chronic underfunding made worse by the pressures of the pandemic.
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 newspaper, was published in response to a Parliamentary Question by the Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey. The party is calling for urgent action to ensure people can get the treatment they need.
In the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, which covers Bath & North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon, the number has fallen from 446 to 405 in the past year.
Commenting, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said:
“The lack of NHS dentists, both across the country and here in Bath, is a real crisis for people. A number of constituents have written to me about this on behalf of themselves, their elderly parents and their children. As well as being unable to sort out urgent care, people are storing up problems for the future without regular checkups.
“Funding for NHS dentistry has been neglected by the Government for years, and we are now seeing the damaging results for both the public and dental professionals. 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. ”
Bath & North East Somerset Cllr Dine Romero commented:
“Falling NHS dentists across our region is very worrying and will have an impact on many people’s health. Ultimately, people’s health must come first and the Conservatives are failing people across the region. We need urgent action to address the shortage.”