MANY high street dentists in England are “severing ties” with the NHS, which could leave millions of patients “with no options”, leading dentists have warned.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said that if the current trend continues “this is how NHS dentistry will die”.
This comes after Healthwatch in Blackburn with Darwen said NHS England confirmed there are currently no dentists taking new NHS patients in Blackburn with Darwen.
Healthwatch said the shortage of NHS appointments has hit people on low incomes hardest, meaning they are less likely to have dental treatment, compared with those on higher incomes.
The BDA said that since March 2020, some 3,000 dentists are understood to have moved away from NHS work entirely.
A poll of 2,200 high street dentists in England found 45 per cent have reduced their NHS commitment since the start of the pandemic.
The figures also found 75 per cent are “likely” to reduce, or further reduce, their NHS commitment in the next 12 months.
Chairman of the British Dental Association, Shawn Charlwood said: “Overstretched and underfunded, thousands of dentists have already left the NHS, but many more have begun severing their ties.
“This is how NHS dentistry will die, a lingering decline that unchecked will leave millions of patients with no options.
“This Government has ensured many dentists cannot see a future in this service. Without urgent reform and adequate funding there is little hope we can halt this exodus.”
It comes as MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee are to examine issues in the sector at a meeting on Tuesday.
Minister for patient safety and primary care, Maria Caulfield said: “We have given the NHS £50 million to fund up to 350,000 extra dental appointments and we are growing the workforce so people can get the oral care they need.
“As we now learn to live with Covid, we have been working with the sector to safely increase activity and practices are now expected to deliver at least 95 per cent of the activity they were delivering before the pandemic.”