Synergy Dental Lobbies for Change! Pt. 1

NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years due to underfunding and has been worsened by the backlog caused by clinic closures during lockdown, leaving many patients unable to access a dentist, but changes are beginning to come. 

The State of Dentistry

Last month, when St Paul’s Dental Practice opened in Bristol, hundreds of people queued for hours just in the hopes of securing an NHS dentist. The images from that day took the dentistry crisis that has plagued patients for years from an abstract to an unignorable reality. 

At present in the UK, 4 of 5 dentists are unable to take NHS dentistry. This isn’t because dentists have suddenly gotten greedy and decided to go private – it is because the dentists themselves cannot afford the cost of treating NHS patients. 

You yourself have likely felt the pinch of rising prices, higher energy costs and rising gas bills, and dentists are no different. The price of consumables has risen by 10k per year for the average dental practice, and many dentists are still struggling to recover losses caused by being closed during the pandemic. To top it off, the £3bn dental budget has not been increased to account for inflation, meaning dentists are paying more costs, but still getting the same amount of money allocated. 

On top of that, since Brexit and covid, many migrant dentists have decided to move back to their countries of origin, leaving a gap in the UK workforce. This means that even if a dental clinic does have the capacity to treat patients, they may not have a dentist available to treat them. 

Tooth decay is currently the leading cause of hospitalisation between children aged 6 to 10 years old. It is inexcusable that a world-leading country for healthcare such as ours currently has children suffering due to completely preventable dental problems. 

Thankfully, our government has finally recognised this and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has implemented a plan to save our NHS dentists. 

What are the Government’s Plans for NHS Dentistry? 

The new plans for NHS dentistry consist of:

  • Giving dentists a new patient payment between £15 and £50 for taking on new NHS
  • Smile for life initiative to help parents learn how to care for baby and toddler teeth. 
  • Providing dental vans to reach underserved areas
  • Contract reform 
  • Workforce expansion through:
    • Increasing undergraduate places
    • Giving the GDC new powers to increase exam places
    • Allowing overseas dentists (non-EEA) to practise temporarily in the UK without GDC exams.
NHS dentistry in the UK

Whilst these changes are a good start, it remains to be seen if these changes will be enough in the long-run. 

In next week’s post, we’ll be delving into what we have been doing here at Synergy to bring about changes in the dental profession, and what you as our patients can do to help bring about the change you want to see. 

Until then, rest assured that as dentists, we are on the public’s side. We are just as frustrated by the current problems in NHS dentistry as you are, and are fighting for change alongside you. 

If you are presently struggling to find an NHS dentist, we offer our dental insurance called SynPlan to help make dentistry affordable. This is a £10 monthly payment that gives patients access to essential dental care to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to maintain their oral health. Plus we allow every registered adult to also add 2 children to their plan for free, so your whole family will never need to neglect their dental health.

Phone Lines Open