Sunday, June 16, 2024

Dental crisis now a top issue on the doorstep

THE British Dental Association has said failure to set out credible plans to save NHS dentistry will hit the parties at the ballot box, with evidence showing the state of the service is now at the forefront of voter concerns across the South and East of England.

A new survey of voters in by YouGov reveals the access crisis in dentistry is a top doorstep issue in the South and East of England in this General Election:

  • As a local issue, voters in the region have placed dentistry above traditional doorstep concerns like crime, the state of the high street and public transport.
    • Over a third of voters identified it as a top local concern (34%) compared to 17% for crime, 19% for high street shops, 16% for public transport, and 11% for schools and education.
    • Only the state of roads (46%), GP services (41%) and affordable housing (37%) scored higher.
  • Close to 1 in 20 voters in the South (4%) say the crisis in dentistry will directly impact on how they vote.
  • Respondents say dentistry is the hardest to access of NHS services with 75% describing it as difficult, compared to 66% for GPs, and less than half (40%) for A&E.
  • 81% say the Government should be doing more to improve NHS dentistry. Only 10% believe Government are doing all they reasonably can.
  • 1 in 5 (22%) say they have experienced pain for extended periods relating to their mouth or teeth since lockdown. 8% say they have attempted some form of DIY dentistry since March 2020. 
  • On national issues voters are citing cost of living/economy (61%) and health (41%) as their top concerns. The BDA stress this explains the status of dentistry, where the cost of living and NHS access crises converge.

The BDA has called on all parties to offer real urgency and ambition to save the service and prevent widening inequalities. It has set out its key priorities for the next parliament, on ending the access crisis, halting the exodus from the workforce and refocusing on prevention. However, it has stressed that any real progress hinges a decisive break from the discredited NHS contract dentists in England work to.

The professional body dubbed the Government’s recent recovery plan unworthy of the title, stressing that all parties need to offer more than tweaks if this service is going to survive.  

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

“NHS dentistry is now a top issue on the doorstep because millions have no options.

“Access and cost of living crises have collided, and thus far Government hasn’t stepped up to the plate. 

“Politicians might lose their seats if they fail to act, but voters risk losing this service for good.”


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