Over half of the NHS dental practices in the North of England, chosen to take part in a new contract aimed at increasing access to NHS dental services and focusing on disease prevention, are currently not accepting new patients.
Despite over 3 years of testing by the Department of Health, it is unable to work out a formula that allows dentists to spend more time on disease prevention without slashing the number of patients that each practice can see. An average of 20% reduction in patient seen over the last 3 years and some a staggering 40% reduction in patient numbers as more time was spent with each patient.
No clear deadlines have been put in place to replace the current dentist contract and it could be another 5 years before any major change is seen across the country.
62 practices were chosen to test a new contract later in 2015. Most of the practices are in the North of the country despite the fact that over half are already at capacity. London has the highest capacity, although only 9 practices were chosen to test NHS dentistry reform for almost 8 million people.
Overall 1 in 3 practices selected are at capacity for NHS patients and nearly half do not have a link to a practice website for further information about their fees and services.
|English region||Not accepting new patients||No link to website|
|Midlands and East
Data enclosed is taken from NHS Choices (where available) http://www.nhs.uk
NHS dental services on NHS Choices profile pages are updated by practice owners / managers. An external link to a practice website is not mandatory.
The Department of Health currently provides NHS dental services to only half the population and only 2 in 3 children in England. Wider Toothpick research reveals that only 10% of dental practices are able to offer an NHS dental appointment within 7 days.
The impact of all the previous testing to improve the contract has led to a reduction in patient numbers. If the practices in the North alone were to reduce access by just 10%, it could mean only 1 in 3 NHS dental practices actually accepting new patients and denying access to millions of people.
NHS dental services are very limited both in terms of funding and availability. The emergence of the private market has created affordable private alternatives with monthly membership based schemes and insurance to help cover the cost of treatment. To find an affordable private dentist click here.
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