Dentists abandoning the NHS.

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.” 


  1. I was at school in Bath from 1956 to 1970. During that time (and for a good many years before and after) there was a School Dental Clinic at Bluecoat House in the Sawclose. One of the school dentists would come out to the schools in Bath, to give all children an annual rudimentary check. If further treatment was needed, you were given a letter to take home suggesting that the child should be taken to his/her own dentist, or an appointment made at the school clinic. I managed to get NHS treatment up until about 1990, then my dentist went ‘private’. When we moved to where we now live (not in Bath) the dentist I went to offered basic treatment on the NHS but anything ‘over and above’ had to be paid for. And I’ve been paying for it ever since. I have limited insurance (which pays 50% of dental and other health costs) and I consider it to be money well spent. But the situation today is nothing short of scandalous, and successive governments have done nothing to improve it. In a (so-called) civilised society, those who purport to govern us (most, if not all, of whom will be able to afford private treatment) should be thoroughly ashamed. Another example of things having got worse rather than better. Progress?

  2. @harlech67 , as a teenager in the 80’s ,I also remember seeing a dentist in my school aswell, and ofcourse ” regular” dentist check up’s.I agree it’s been under
    Funded for year’s! although obviously some are playing politics , when they didn’t know Bath years ago , having not been bred in or around the City!

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