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​NHS access crisis: Dentists hail Qureshi's message to Hancock 

11 February 2019


The BDA has greeted a letter from Bolton's Yasmin Qureshi MP to Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP, urging him to act on the mounting NHS dentistry access problems across England. 


The message, co-signed by 16 MPs from across England, takes the Health Secretary to task for failing to address the funding and contract issues fuelling the crisis, and for recent comments endorsing 'affordable' private alternatives to his own constituents, many of whom are no longer able to get an NHS appointment. 


Signatories warned the Health Secretary that "unless the system is appropriately funded and commissioned the problems facing patients in constituencies like ours will soon be shared by patients across England."


Analysis of official data shows over a million new patients tried and failed to secure access to NHS services last year, including 60,000 across Greater Manchester.


The government is yet to deliver on pledges to reform the widely discredited NHS contract that effectively caps patient numbers.


Data published last week has shown sweeping cuts to NHS budgets. In 2010 £42 was set aside by government to cover dental care for every adult and child in England. By 2018 this had fallen by £12 in real terms, a drop of nearly 30%.


The BDA's chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said:


"MPs from across England have sent the Health Secretary a vital message. Now he needs to explain why on his watch dental patients in pain are unable to secure the care they need. 


"The public value choice between NHS and private dentistry. But thanks to underfunding and a failed contract, over a million new patients across England have been left with no choice at all. 


"This government can't keep pretending that access problems will be solved with warm words. The Health Secretary has a duty to ensure that all who rely on NHS services can access them."


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