The BDA has helped secure a debate in parliament this Thursday, 27 April – I’ve asked my MP to attend and represent me to fix NHS dentistry, and I urge you to write to ask your MP to do the same:
I stressed to my MP that NHS dentistry is in crisis. For too long, dentistry has been ignored and we need action now.
Failure to fund is impacting dentists and patients
I am in the early stages of my career in NHS Dentistry. This is my first year working full-time after foundation year training. I love my job, and I love working with my community, I really enjoy helping patients achieve optimal oral health and a smile they can be proud of.
We’ve heard horrific stories of people pulling their own teeth out in desperation. This has to stop."
Recently, however, I have experienced the brunt of the effects of this Government’s failure to adequately fund NHS dentistry for all those who require it.
Patients are coming into the clinic, not having seen a dentist in 2-3 years (or more), with excruciating and agonising pain, which could have been prevented had the problem been picked up earlier in a simple check-up. Some of these patients require referrals for treatment that cannot be completed locally, which carries the burden of a two-year waiting list to be seen. Finally, these patients then call multiple practices in the hope of joining another waiting list to be seen for a check-up, with wait-times exceeding five years in many areas.
A large proportion of my patients do pay for NHS treatment, which will be increasing with the recent NHS dental charges hike announcement, but many of them also claim free treatment. Neither group can afford private dentistry for the most part, and many are struggling to buy even the basics now because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Those that can’t access our services are turning to DIY dentistry and we’ve heard horrific stories of people pulling their own teeth out in desperation. This has to stop.
The contract is not working
I’ve explained to my MP how NHS dentistry continues to be squeezed - with "clawback" on the NHS contracts set to breach £400m this year, the effects of which may mean even fewer patients will be able to receive the treatment they really deserve.
I feel I have started a career in which it is commonplace to lose money trying to help others. This is a poor business model – we need reform now."
And the contract itself is simply not working. There have been minor ‘adjustments’ to the NHS contract for dentists, with government claiming these are helping.
But I’ve told my MP how UDA rates are making it difficult for us to keep afloat. Sometimes I can barely cover my own expenses when making dentures, bridges and crowns. I feel I have started a career in which it is commonplace to lose money trying to help others. This is a poor business model – we need reform now.
I’ve urged my MP to attend the debate to save our NHS and fight our corner for us. Otherwise, I, and many others, are likely to continue the exodus from the NHS. It is a decision we will not take lightly. It's not what we want to do at all, but it's what we'll have to do if we want to pay the bills.