More patients seen by NHS dentists

ALMOST 30 million patients have been seen by an NHS dentist in England in the past two years, an increase of nearly two million.

New figures show 29.9 million patients were seen between December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2013. That’s an increase of 1.8 million on the baseline figure recorded in March 2006.

It means 55.9 per cent of the population were seen by a high street dentist during that time, a slight increase on the baseline of 55.6 per cent.

The number of children seen by an NHS dentist went up by one per cent in the two years to December 31, 2013, compared to the 2006 baseline. However, the overall percentage of children fell to 69 per cent, compared to the baseline of 70.2 per cent.

The figures were revealed in the NHS Dental Statistics for England: 2013-14 Second Quarterly Report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The report also showed the number of courses of treatment (CoT) carried out between July and September 2013.

It showed there were an estimated 9.9 million CoT between July and September 2013, an increase of 29,000 (0.3 per cent). During that time, CoT increased for each treatment band except ‘other’ which fell by almost 79 per cent. This drop reflects the phasing out of UDA credits for CoT as part of the 2012/13 dental contract uplift arrangements.

Paying adults were the highest proportion of patients receiving treatment in each band apart from band three treatments, where non-paying adults received 53.2 per cent of treatments.

Dr Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for NHS England, told Dentistry: “I am very pleased to see that the number of people, both adults and children, who now have access to an NHS dentist, continues to increase year on year. This is really good news.

“We are committed to ensuring that this progress continues. The dental activity figures published today show an increase in activity and again this is good news for NHS patients.

“Although both the increase in access and service delivery is good news, we also need to continue to develop new contractual arrangements, which also focus on clinical outcomes.”