Government plans “too little too late” for 240,000 children missing out of NHS dental care

MB
8 Feb 2024

A retired senior dentist in Sunderland has slammed the Government’s new dental plan as figures show 240,289 children in the North East and North Cumbria had not been seen by an NHS dentist in 12 months.

Research commissioned from the House of Commons Library estimates the number of children who weren’t seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2023, based on the latest data from the health service.

It shows a staggering 42% of children who had not been seen by a dentist in the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board area over the twelve month period.

In our region, 52% of adults had not been seen by an NHS dentist in the two years to June 2023.

The Government’s new Dental Plan will see cash incentives for NHS dentists, mobile dental services and dental teams visiting schools and nurseries. 

It has previously been estimated that the NHS budget was underspent by a record £400m last year, due to dentists not finding it economic to take on NHS work. 

Now Liberal Democrats in Sunderland and nationally are calling for a dental healthcare rescue plan to boost the number of appointments. The party are also calling for reforms to guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care, ending DIY dentistry and “dental deserts”, and the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Commenting retired senior dentist and Lib Dem councillor for Fulwell and Seaburn in Sunderland Malcolm Bond said:

“The government’s plans are too little too late for local families who have been left waiting in pain struggling to get a dentist appointment.

“It is appalling that so many children in our area are struggling to see an NHS dentist when they need to. We know that if children can’t access dental healthcare it can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning. 

“Instead of these half-baked reforms, we need a proper rescue package for dental healthcare. That means guaranteeing access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing emergency care, boosting the number of appointments and removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”

Malcolm Bond on Sea Road