Two tier access to dentistry is fuelling health inequalities and piling pressure on emergency services

08 August 2022

Responding to a BBC investigation into NHS dentistry, Siobhan Melia, chair of the Community Network hosted by the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, said:

"We face a two-tier system where those who can afford it pay for treatment while those who cannot face longer waits and deteriorating health. This is widening health inequalities while also piling pressure on other parts of an already stretched NHS, as people in pain seek help from urgent care.

"Community providers, who deliver NHS specialised dentistry services, primarily providing treatment to vulnerable groups of adults and children, have long raised concerns about the backlogs of care.

"Leaders tell us that long waits for NHS dentistry services have a significant impact on people who are often in a lot of pain as they wait for treatment. This has a knock-on effect on many areas of people’s lives, for instance, on children’s ability to concentrate at school or for adults at work.

"These longstanding challenges need to be reviewed by government as a matter of urgency."