THE proportion of children seen by an NHS dentist in England fell by nearly 36 per cent in the year following the first lockdown, according to statistics from NHS England.
The period also saw a decrease of 69 per cent in number of dental treatments compared to the previous year. This means that over 30 million courses of NHS treatment have now been lost since the first lockdown.
The BDA has commented on the figures and "understands" that around half of NHS practices in England are not currently meeting targets imposed by government that require them to hit 60 per cent of pre-Covid activity levels, and as a result will face financial penalties.
It points out that dental leaders believe this reflects the limits of what's possible under strict infection control guidance, which remains largely unchanged since the resumption of routine care in June 2020.
The BDA says that other UK nations have provided capital funding to help practices increase capacity through new high-volume ventilation systems but there has been no commitment from authorities in England. It believes investment here would quickly pay for itself through recovery of patient charge revenues.
Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the BDA's General Dental Practice Committee said: "Millions are still missing out on dental care, and patients will be paying the price for years to come.
"Dentists in England have had capacity slashed by pandemic restrictions, and need help to get patients back through their doors. Sadly while every other UK nation has committed funds, Westminster chose to impose targets that thousands of practices are now struggling to hit.
"To deliver for patients we need real support, and a clear roadmap to ease restrictions. But even before Covid there simply wasn't enough NHS dentistry to go round.”
Link: NHS Dental Statistics for England - 2020-21 Annual Report - NHS Digital
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