The UK government is set to offer financial incentives to dentists in England who agree to accept new NHS patients, with a particular focus on areas with the fewest dental practitioners. Dentists who are willing to work in these areas could receive a bonus of £20,000. This move comes in response to a growing crisis in NHS dentistry, with many people unable to find an NHS dentist and resorting to emergency or private treatment.
Stephen Davies, a 67-year-old Lancashire resident, has had to have 10 teeth extracted due to lack of access to an NHS dentist. He has had to take out a loan to pay for false teeth. A national patient survey by NHS England last year revealed that only just over half of people had tried to access an NHS dentist in the past two years, with nearly a quarter of them unsuccessful.
Teresa Kemp, 66, has been unable to find an NHS dentist since moving to County Durham three years ago. She suffers from loose teeth and painful, swollen gums. Peter Williams and his family have not seen an NHS dentist since 2019. Despite trying local dentists in West Sussex, he has not found one willing to accept new NHS patients.
George Filer, 80, has not seen an NHS dentist for over four years. The nearest one offered was over 200 miles away. Naomi Minto’s seven-year-old son Ruben has never had a dental appointment on the NHS, leading her to use private dentistry.
Tommy Benn, 28, from Berkshire, has not been able to find an NHS dentist since 2019. The closest dentist accepting new NHS patients is 17 miles away. In September, Tommy resorted to booking a private appointment due to toothache. His consultation and treatment for fillings including one root canal came to £1,720. He opted for a payment plan to spread the cost.
The use of private dentistry is becoming more common, with half of the people who did not try to see an NHS dentist relying on private dentistry or going without because they assumed they would not be able to find an NHS one.