Drop in NHS patient numbers
 

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Drop in NHS patient numbers

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Drop in NHS patient numbers

 

Drop in NHS patient numbers

The number of people seen by an NHS dentist in England has dropped since the introduction of the new contract, latest figures have revealed.

The statistics from the Information Centre for Health and Social Care show 69,000 fewer people visited a dentist in the 24-month period up to the end of December than before the contract came into force.

On 31 March 2006, on the eve of the introduction of the new contract, the number of adults and children who had visited a dentist in the past two years stood at 28.15 million. By December 31 this had fallen to 28.08 million – 55.7 per cent of the total population.

A breakdown of the figures reveals that 11,000 fewer children are being seen by a dentist following the introduction of the new contract. The 7.78 million children – 70.5 per cent of the child population – seen in the 24-month period up to 31 December compares poorly with the 7.79 million seen up to the end of the previous March.

The data, which covers a range of indicators on NHS activity and workforce dental statistics, show the number of high-street dentists signed up to deliver NHS services increased between October and December. NHS practitioners in England rose by 602 from 20,285 to 20,887 over the third quarter of the financial year.

But despite the growth, the workforce is still smaller than it was before the introduction of the new contract at the end of March 2006, when 21,111 dentists were registered with the NHS. There is now one NHS dentist contracted for every 2,414 patients in England – a slight improvement on the second quarter, when there was one dentist for every 2,486 patients.

The Department of Health declined to comment on the figures when they were published on March 23. But the Liberal Democrats claimed it was ‘totally unacceptable’ that so many patients did not have access to an NHS dentist.

Health spokeswoman Sandra Gidley MP said: ‘Ministers repeatedly promised that the new contract would increase access to NHS dentistry, yet we now see that fewer people are being seen.

‘The government is entirely to blame. We are witnessing a major crisis in NHS dentistry. With fewer dentists signed up to do NHS work under the new contract than before, it is clear that the dental contract is yet another botched government reform.

‘It is a particular travesty that children are getting less access to a dentist. Good oral health habits are established early on in life, yet many children will be unfamiliar with a dentist’s surgery.'

 Posted on : Sun 1st - Apr - 2007

 

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