Go to content

BDA and Healthwatch press Chancellor to reverse decade of cuts

Together with patient champions Healthwatch England, we have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the coming Spending Review to guarantee the future of NHS dentistry.

In an open letter, highlighting the impact on patient care of a decade of cuts and over 30 million lost appointments since the first lockdown, we have called for investment to underpin the recovery and the promised reform of NHS dentistry.

The Chair of Healthwatch England, Sir Robert Francis QC, has warned NHS dentistry is now at risk of "vanishing into the void" and has urged the Government to use the Spending Review to provide vital investment.

Healthwatch has continued to raise the issues faced by patients in accessing NHS dental care – dentistry is now the number one issue patients raise concerns about. From April to June 2021, their feedback was up 55% on the previous three months, and 794% higher when compared with the same period in 2020. Nearly 4 in 5 people (79%) of those said they found it difficult to access timely care.

Budgets have failed to keep pace with inflation and population growth. We estimate it would take an additional £879m from the Treasury to restore resources to 2010 levels.

With £0.6 billion lost in NHS patient charge revenues since lockdown, we need to know there will be adequate funding to continue to deliver NHS dentistry to the patients who need it. With government anxious to make good on their ‘lost’ revenue, we have also called for inflation-busting patient charge hikes and cuts to front line services to be ruled out.

While the Prime Minister recently committed £36 billion to frontline services – dubbed the "biggest catch-up programme in the NHS's history" – dentistry did not receive a penny of new investment.

Together with Healthwatch, we are clear that do ‘more with less’ cannot be the model underpinning any credible reformed system. Together we will continue to make the case for sustainable investment to Government.