Go to content

"Crisis? What Crisis?": busting myths on NHS dentistry

Mass closures. Patients queuing at dawn outside practices. An exodus from the workforce.

The challenges facing this service are crystal clear, but we're having to bust myths coming from the very top of government that NHS dentistry is somehow on the 'road to recovery'.

At PMQs The Prime Minister keeps glossing over the crisis, repeating misleading lines on workforce, funding and reform, almost verbatim.

Facts matter. And you can join us in sharing these messages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

This month the PM failed to respond to questions from Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy on whether NHS dentistry is "in crisis". With BUPA recently announcing mass closures and over 300 patients queuing outside a Kings Lynn practice from 4am to secure access, a sight not seen in England for a generation, it's clear what the reality is on the frontline.

In January Sunak told Lancaster and Fleetwood's Cat Smith MP: "as a result of the new reformed NHS dentistry contract there are now more NHS dentists across the UK with more funding making sure people can get the treatment they need."

Again we've seen just tweaks to a contract dubbed 'not fit for purpose' by Parliament's Health Committee. In March we warned the Committee, which is currently holding an inquiry into the crisis in the service, that Ministers are just "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while the service slowly slips into the sea." Sadly their Captain doesn't even accept this service has hit the iceberg.

But we're winning the argument. MPs from both government and opposition benches are raising the facts week in, week out. "I don't like saying it as a supporter of this government" said Conservative MP Richard Bacon.

"But I don't think the 'collapse of NHS dentistry' as a phrase is too extreme when we're seeing what's happening."

In the recent local elections NHS dentistry was a big issue on the doorstep. It will be a bigger issue in the General Election to come. It's easy to see why.

The public thought NHS dentistry would always be there for them. Some will be ready to vote for those ready to save it. Others willing to punish those who fail to act.

One thing is clear. Our patients need to see honesty, ambition and investment from government.