Health in the UK NHS Dentistry Looks Grim

NHS Dentistry Looks Grim Up North [Debate Piece]

The background

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.

The facts

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

9 practices

0% 44%
The North

25 practices

55% 45%
The South

7 practices

33% 33%
Midlands and East

21 practices

41% 41%
England Total

62 practices

32% 41%


Data enclosed is taken from NHS Choices (where available)

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 future

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.

The alternative

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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  • Anthony Kilcoyne

    Clearly the DH and NHS England need to admit The Big Lie that they can’t do everything for everyone.

    Then from there actually look at the areas that need most attention – national prevention (pays the nhs back too!), child hospital admissions, elderly neglect in care-homes/domis etc AND toothache/emergency provision are an obvious few.

    This latter one should mean nobody has to stay in acute pain for days – even medical A+E tries to see people in 4 hours, so why ignore such basics for dentistry???

    It’s time to get real – get better efficiency/rewards for dental A+E services, plus have proper clinics set up 24/7 and fully staffed/funded by HMG, which will make them appreciate the real VALUE most dentists provide economically too!

  • YDS

    Love the article it is really nice .. we will do a review about it in out site soon