Filling the gap – finding an NHS dentist

The British government is struggling to fill so-called "dentistry deserts" covering parts of the United Kingdom, with millions of people unable to find an National Health Service (NHS) dentist, according to a Citizens Advice report.

According to the study:

  • Among the main problem areas are those in rural communities, with people in regions such as north Wales having to rely on public transport to travel long distances – often at great cost – to find an NHS dentist.
  • Of the 4,000 people who completed the survey, more than three quarters said there were no local dentists accepting NHS patients, while another quarter said the nearest dentist was too far away for them to travel to.
  • Overall, Citizens Advice calculates two million people are currently unable to find an NHS dentist.

    The problem has been limited to the state-subsidised NHS dentists, say the authors of the report, meaning some areas enjoy a wealth of trained professionals, while others are effectively "deserts" when it comes to service.

    In response, the government has attempted to overhaul the system, offering primary care trusts a budget of £ 2.3 billion (around U.S. $4.5 billion) in additional funding. But the British Dental Association (BDA) says the increase has done little to change the current structure, which continues failing both patients and dentists.

    Source: Editorial, Britons struggle to fill the gap in 'dentistry deserts,', March 28, 2007.

    For text:$1071929.htm

    For report:

    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 03 April 2007
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