York’s “severe shortage of NHS dentists” is set to be scrutinised as the percentage of people having their teeth professionally checked has plummeted.
Just 38.1 per cent of adults were seen by a dentist in the two years leading up to June 2022, data from the House of Commons library shows.
In the 12 months up to June 2022, 56.2 per cent of children were seen by a dentist in York.
These figures are down from 54.6 per cent for adults and 75 per cent for children in June 2018.
An oral health report will be presented to the City of York Council’s health scrutiny committee tomorrow (13 December).
It reads: “People should be able to access any dental practice that holds an NHS contract without geographical or boundary restrictions, however, the reality is far from this, with a severe shortage of NHS dentists and long waiting lists.”
The scrutiny committee will be asked to note the report, work with the integrated care board and partners to increase access to dental services where possible, as well as supporting work to prevent dental decay and improve the oral health of York’s population.
Cllr Jo Coles, the council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adult social care, said: “We know that poor oral health is a big driver of wider health inequalities which is why I’ve been pushing for improvements to access to NHS dentistry since Labour took over in May.
“There are many long-standing problems with dentistry, including a chronic shortage of NHS dentists in York and a lack of local emergency dental provision.
“All of this is completely unacceptable for York residents.
“I will continue to push the ICB to improve the provision of NHS dentistry in York – especially in emergencies and for children and pregnant women.
“And we need more support nationally too – Labour’s plan for 700,000 more dentist appointments a year for the most urgent cases is desperately needed.”
‘Shutting their doors’
Cllr Carol Runciman, York Liberal Democrat’s spokesperson for health, said: “Far too many people and their children are struggling to see an NHS dentist and get the affordable dental healthcare they need.
“We’ve reached a breaking point in this crisis.”
She added: “Some practices are shutting their doors to NHS patients altogether, but the government is missing in action.
“As the cost-of-living catastrophe continues to hit households hard, private dentistry is not a feasible alternative for the many people who just have to live in pain.”
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) took over commissioning for primary, secondary and community dental services in April 2023.
Amanda Bloor, its deputy chief executive, previously acknowledged “well-known challenges facing dental care” in York.
Rachael Maskell, the MP for York Central, subsequently called for a dental summit to address what she labelled a “dental crisis” in the city.
“I am determined that we must see a high-quality NHS dental service return to York,” she said.
“Good oral health provision under the NHS is a fundamental right that must be accessible to all.”