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Victorian dentistry in 21st Century Britain

A recovery plan for NHS dentistry is seemingly just days from publication, and it couldn’t come any sooner.

But there’s little chance it will deliver the break from a failed past we need.

With every passing day we’re lifting the lid on more of the horrors facing patients across the country.

On Saturday we saw a trail of the now published final report of the Times Health Commission, an expert-led year-long inquiry into what needs to change in NHS dentistry. They’ve joined the calls coming from all quarters – from the profession, the cross-party Health and Social Care Committee and the Daily Mirror – for a decisive break from the failed contract.

We told the commissioners about the scandal of refugees - and even UK nationals - flying to the Ukraine to access care they can’t secure in the UK. And data we’ve secured from the Economist has made waves, showing that the UK lags behind both Ukraine and Rwanda in terms of timely access to care – so behind both developing countries and war zones.

Now testimony from the frontline is showing the real price of government indifference.

3-year-olds with dental sepsis. An epidemic of DIY dentistry. The return of scurvy.

Our recent surveys show over 8 in 10 dentists have treated patients who’ve undertaken some form of ‘DIY’ dental work since lockdown. It’s a national disgrace.

Ministers need to take some responsibility. A wealthy 21st Century nation is slipping back to the Victorian era on their watch.

The Government keeps saying it wants everyone to be able to access NHS dentistry. But there’s no sign of a credible plan to make that a reality, and no willingness to break from the failed contract.“You can count on one hand those clinging on to a failed status quo” says General Dental Practice Committee chair Shawn Charlwood.“The tragedy for our patients is that these people work at the Department of Health, the Treasury and Downing Street.”

We won’t stop piling the pressure on Government. All dentists can help by sharing their experiences.