A councillor has called for an urgent review of the system that has left so many people without a dentist and in pain.
The latest report by Healthwatch York revealed a ‘dramatic’ decline in access to dental care in York which is ‘reducing the quality of life of many people across the city’.
Now Cllr Paul Doughty, chair of the city’s health scrutiny committee, is calling for a wholesale review of access to NHS dental and GP care.
The crisis was discussed at the health and adult social care committee meeting yesterday (Monday).
Cllr Doughty (Con, Strensall) said: “We know from what constituents tell us, the local media and Healthwatch reports that there is a serious problem accessing dentistry services in York, particularly those who are not already registered with a dentist accepting residents as an NHS patient.
“The council plan in today’s meeting agenda didn’t seem to include anything specific on how to improve this other than vague words about general health and wellbeing.
“Nor does being asked to support ‘flexible commissioning’ give us any reassurance or indication of when, how or if things will improve for residents in the city.”
He said that dentistry contracts date back to 2006, when introduced by the Labour government.
“Whatever the intention was, these rigid contracts have failed many so badly. The most major issue to me appears to be the glaring oversight which in reality means when a dental practice reaches its contracted ‘quota of NHS dental activity’, it doesn’t have to take more!
“That is crazy, especially with an increasing population and the anticipated housing growth in future years.”
He added: “We know the Government are looking at much needed reform and I am adding my voice for an urgent review into contracts. As chair of the health scrutiny committee, we’ll be writing to the Secretary of State, including the Healthwatch report and testaments from some local health professionals.”
Nationally, more than 350,000 additional dentist appointments are to be made available to patients in England over the coming months, the NHS said today.
NHS dental services across the country are to be awarded a share of a £50 million funding pot to help services recover to pre-pandemic levels.
Children, people with learning disabilities, autism or severe mental health problems will be prioritised as part of a dentistry “treatment blitz” over the coming months, NHS England said.