In January, retired teacher Claire Adams received a letter from her local NHS dental practice. It said she was no longer able to receive NHS care, but invited her to continue as a private patient. Reading the letter, she says she felt “disbelief, frustration and a level of panic”. Claire called around other NHS surgeries, but none were able to take her on as a patient.
Last year, more than 2,000 NHS dentists stopped providing NHS care. The exodus has left many people without an affordable local dentist. Why are so many dentists leaving?
The Guardian’s health policy editor, Denis Campbell, and NHS dentist Eddie Crouch tell Nosheen Iqbal how a 2006 change in the way dentists are remunerated, the pandemic and a lack of investment has left dentists overworked and struggling to meet demand.
“If we are to provide a pain-relief service only, then let’s have an honest conversation about that,” says Crouch, who is also the chair of the British Dental Association’s principal executive committee. “But at the moment, the politicians want the public to believe there is a comprehensive dental service out there for them, that they are paying for through their taxes. And that isn’t true.”
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