Londoners least likely to have seen NHS dentist in past two years in ‘postcode lottery’

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Londoners and those living in the commuter belt are the least likely to have seen an NHS dentist in the past two years, new figures have revealed (Stock image)  (PA Wire)
Londoners and those living in the commuter belt are the least likely to have seen an NHS dentist in the past two years, new figures have revealed (Stock image) (PA Wire)

Londoners and those living in the commuter belt are the least likely to have seen an NHS dentist in the past two years, new figures have revealed.

Nine of the ten areas with the fewest number of adults to have seen an NHS dentist in the two years to June 2022 were in the capital, according to NHS dental statistics.

Data analysis conducted by the Liberal Democrats found that just 14 per cent of adult residents in the City of London had seen an NHS dentist during the time period – a lower proportion than anywhere else in the country and down from 38 per cent four years ago.

In Tower Hamlets, just over a fifth (21.9 per cent) of residents had seen a dentist while nearly a quarter (24.9 per cent) had successfully attended an appointment in Richmond Upon Thames.

Meanwhile, under a third of children living in the boroughs of Islington (32.3 per cent) and Kensington and Chelsea (29.6 per cent) had seen an NHS dentist in the past two years – a fall of nearly 20 per cent since 2018 in the latter.

Children should see an NHS dentist at least once a year, according to guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The figures also reflect the impact of the Covid pandemic on dentistry, with practices instructed to close and cease all routine dental care from March 25 to June 8, 2020 – leading to a backlog in appointments.

Simultaneously, the number of dentists providing NHS treatment has fallen to its lowest level in a decade. Figures obtained by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) found that the number of dentists providing NHS treatment fell from 23,733 at the end of 2020 to 21,544 at the end of January 2022.

Separate polling conducted for the Lib Dems found that one in five (21 per cent) of Britons had turned to “DIY dentistry” in the past year after failing to secure an NHS appointment.

For some patients this could include using a filling kit from a pharmacy and in extreme cases some people have even claimed to have pulled out their own teeth.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: “Londoners are losing out in the postcode lottery of dental care, with far too many people struggling to see an NHS dentist when they need to.

“Across the capital and South East, it is now almost impossible to get an appointment with an NHS dentist, leaving people waiting in pain or tragically turning to DIY dentistry instead.”