BDA: Kids on liquid diets the human cost of access crisis


  Posted by: Dental Design      17th November 2023

The British Dental Association has said damning data secured by LBC underlines the case for radical and urgent action to restore NHS dentistry.

In Plymouth, data shared with the broadcaster shows that 600 children had a combined 4,000 teeth extracted. At one local primary school, teachers discovered that 50% of their pupils had never seen a dentist. This is resulting in children having to completely change their diets, moving off solid foods and relying solely on liquids such as soups and smoothies.

The BDA stresses Plymouth is far from an outlier, with access problems now gripping every corner of the country.

Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and ongoing access problems are set to see the oral health gap between rich and poor widen. Rates for extractions among children and young people living in England’s most deprived communities are nearly 3.5 times that of those living in the most affluent.

The discredited NHS contracts dentists work to has fuelled a recruitment and retention crisis across the service, with every vacancy translating into thousands of patients unable to access care. The BDA has been pressing government to deliver a recovery plan promised in April and expected before summer. In July the Health and Social Care Committee concluded a damning inquiry, describing the state of the service as “unacceptable in the 21st century”, and set out recommendations real, urgent reform. The Government’s response to the inquiry has been overdue since 14 September 2023.

The recent reshuffle and resignation of dental minister Neil O’Brien MP leaves the much-delayed recovery plan for NHS dentistry in limbo. However, O’Brien has since publicly stated that if ‘fiscal headroom’ exists in the coming Autumn Statement funds should be directed to NHS dentistry.

British Dental Association Chair Eddie Crouch: “We’re seeing children living off soup and smoothies thanks to government failure to get to grips with an access crisis. It’s as tragic as it is preventable. With the collapse in access many of these young kids have never had an NHS appointment. Dentists are trained to nip these problems in the bud, but until Ministers step up we’re going to keep seeing scenes that belong in the Victorian era.

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