According to a recent issue in The Independent, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been subject to a Dental Crisis. Patients in England lay in pain as they are unable to access proper dental care in the public health sector.
An investigative journalist reports that people have complained of being unable to eat, sleep or speak and hope to receive urgent dental assistance. However, the NHS seems to have closed the redirection of their new patients to dentists.
Since the pandemic, the cost of living in England has increased substantially. British healthcare systems have received overwhelming pressure to counter and manage the stressful situation corona has laid down.
While the NHS has come a long way in managing the corona crisis with respect to the number and severity of the overall cases in Great Britain, the dental sector seems to have been neglected in the process.
The National Director of Healthwatch England has taken notice of the issue. ‘This is now a deepening crisis’, she comments.
It is important to note that with the increasing cost of living and disheartening response from NHS, patients have no other option but to look towards private practices to solve the problem. However, those that are unable to afford the high prices that private dental clinics charge are the most affected by this crisis.
Shockingly, this creates what the National Director of Healthwatch would call a ‘two-tier system’ in the dental healthcare sector. It promotes the disparity in healthcare options available for the rich and the poor, creates inequalities, and highlights the divide between these groups in Great Britain.
‘’With millions of households bearing the brunt of the escalating living costs, private treatment is simply not an option, and even NHS charges can be a challenge. This needs urgent attention if the government is to achieve its levelling-up plan and tackle health disparities.’’
One region which requires the most attention is Somerset.
According to sources, patients have been unable to register themselves as new NHS patients for routine dental checkups. Since February 2022, two-thirds of all calls made to NHS have been seen to have issues with accessing dental care.
One particular patient in Somerset, Lydia Davis, 27, claims that she has been unable to find an NHS dentist to treat her gum disease, gingivitis.
Disappointed and upset, she turned to private dental care, which left her feeling completely helpless. “Sitting in the dentist’s office, listening to the list of treatments, the cost of £1,100 brought me to tears. These costs were on top of the £50 I had to spend to have the appointment,” says Lydia.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said that it is committed to looking into the matter and addressing all issues as a response to the problem.
An NHS spokesperson also said: “Dentistry is an important NHS service, and that’s why we have taken unprecedented action to support NHS dentists, including providing financial protection to ensure dental practices can continue to offer valuable services for patients and committing up to an additional £50 million for people requiring urgent care treatment.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has said that they will give the NHS £50m to provide sufficient funds for up to 350,000 extra dental appointments and further indicated their plans of growing the workforce so that patients can be provided with the oral care they need.
This course of action taken by the concerned healthcare departments is a step towards the betterment of the oral public health sector. Hopefully, the underprivileged British population will have more opportunities to receive oral health care, and the division of inequality will cease to exist.