Addressing York’s dental crisis

Proposed by: Cllr Carol Runciman; Seconded by: Cllr Christian Vassie

This council notes:

  • York, similarly to the rest of the country, is facing an acute NHS dental crisis, which is creating additional pressures in other parts of the health system particularly urgent and emergency care and primary care.
  • Our thanks to the dentists, doctors and staff which have had to endure the challenges of the pandemic as well as the dysfunctional target-driven system which is demoralising and failing staff and patients. NHS data shows that the number of dentists continues to fall in York, with 30 practitioners having left since 2018/19, 10 of them in the last year. By March 2021 number of local dentists had fallen to 209; lower than at any time since 2015.
  • Healthwatch York’s January 2022 report shows that only 59 per cent of the York residents it surveyed had an NHS dentist, down from 84 per cent in 2018. According to the most recent NHS data, only 65,819 adults in York have been able to see a dentist in the previous 24months
  • The failures of successive Governments since the pivotal 2006 decision by the then Labour Government to establish a new dental contract based on a dysfunctional and demoralising target-driven system. NHS dentistry has been subject to cuts not seen anywhere else in the NHS. In real terms, net government spend on general dental practice in England has been cut by about a third in the last decade. Government  Ministers have recognised that the system is broken, but are failing to set out a plan or timetable for change and no tangible commitment to reverse a decade of cuts.

This Council believes:

  • That rapid and significant reform of the way dentistry is commissioned and provided is needed to address the increasing problems of access to NHS dental care in the longer term.
  • This Council therefore resolves to:
  • Ask the Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care to bring regular reports on the state of local dentistry to decision sessions, seeking input from relevant scrutiny committees.
  • Ask that the Executive Member makes the case for harnessing opportunities to improve dental service provision locally through the development of Integrated Care Systems (ICS).
  • Ask all group leaders and local health and NHS partners to write a joint letter to the Health Secretary outlining concerns over local provision and access to services, outlining urgent reforms which need to take place, including boosting spending, reforming commissioning to tackle the twin crises of access and affordability, recognising overseas dentistry qualifications and implementing an urgent programme to recruit and retain more NHS dentists.