York’s Dental Health Crisis set to be scrutinised

An oral health report is set to come to a CYC Scrutiny committee next week. It follows some recent research by Healthwatch which showed vividly the huge problems brought by lack of dental care in the city.

The Healthy Child Service is particularly concerned about lack of dental care for children and will be presenting the report to the committee. They said:

“Dental provision in York is terrible… The majority of families now don’t have access to an NHS dentist. I find this professionally uncomfortable as we are raising awareness of need, eg in pregnancy, but we can’t help facilitate access. Flexible commissioning works but very few are eligible – those with decay/pain or on safeguarding plans.

“We need more access to dental care for everyone and especially children, dental decay is a good indicator of neglect and this is being missed. It also feels very unfair that only those who can pay see a dentist – feels like it’s widening the gap for children not narrowing it.

“Also, recent economic pressures on families mean the number who can’t afford to pay for dentist is increasing, we have a two-tier system.”

It has also been revealed in the report that only 38.1% of adults in York were able to secure an appointment with an NHS dentist up to June 2022. This is down from 54.5% who saw an NHS dentist in the two years up to 2018.

In a similarly desperate situation, only 56.2% of children in York have been able to see a dentist in the 12 months up to June 2022, despite the NHS recommending under-18s see a dentist at least once a year. This is down from 75% who had seen an NHS dentist in the year to 2018.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care said:

“Far too many people and their children are struggling to see an NHS dentist and get the affordable dental healthcare they need. “We’ve reached a breaking point in this crisis. NHS dentist appointments are becoming harder to get than ever, a report from the BBC last year revealed that every single NHS dentist they contacted in York were not taking on new patients. Some practices are shutting their doors to NHS patients all together, but the government is missing in action.

“As the cost-of-living catastrophe continues to hit households hard, private dentistry is not a feasible alternative for the many people who just have to live in pain.

Councillor Andrew Hollyer, Haxby and Wigginton ward said:

“It’s a national scandal that people in our community are desperately turning to dangerous DIY dentistry because our public health services have been run into the ground by this Conservative government. The cost of NHS dental treatment has risen by almost 40% in the last 8 years, a 25% increase above inflation.

“I recently contacted my local NHS dentist and was told that I would have to wait two years before I could see a dentist, a private dentist could see me the next day. Residents should not be made to choose between waiting for years for treatment, spending hundreds or even thousands or attempting DIY treatment.

“The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to increase funding for NHS dental services to encourage more dentists to take on NHS patients. We also need to see an increase in the number of dentist training places in the UK and proper workforce planning for health and social care written into law.”


Notes to editor

Full data from the House of Commons Library on the number of adults and children seeing an NHS dentist by area

NHS Dental Statistics (Annual reports 2017-18 - 2021-22)

BBC investigation into dentistry

Health, Housing and Adult Social Care Scrutiny committee