£50m bonanza to fight NHS dental backlog with 350,000 appointments

The £50m bonanza to fight NHS dental backlog crisis: Surgeries will book extra 350,000 appointments under new drive to battle huge waiting lists

  • 38 million NHS dental appointments were lost in lockdown due to Covid controls
  • One in five Britons resorted to ‘DIY dentistry’ as they were unable to see a dentist
  • NHS has pledged extra £50million for urgent dental care until the end of March  
  • Dentists will earn a third more to work out-of-hours in evenings and at weekends

Dentists will conduct an extra 350,000 appointments under a new ‘treatment blitz’ to tackle the enormous pandemic backlog.

The NHS yesterday pledged an extra £50million for urgent dental care until the end of March.

Dentists will be paid one third more to work out-of-hours – in the evenings and at the weekends – to help clear the backlog.

Over 38 million NHS dental appointments have been lost since lockdown as a result of infection control protocols. The backlog will take years to clear.

More than half of Britons have been unable to see a dentist in the past year, with one in five resorting to ‘DIY dentistry’ including pulling out their own teeth. But until yesterday, not a single penny of the Government’s multi-billion pound NHS catch-up programme had been allocated to dentistry.

England’s chief dental officer Sara Hurley said: ‘Dental services are a vital part of the NHS providing oral health care to all age groups, and that’s why we have taken this unprecedented action’

The funding will aim to drive services back to pre-pandemic levels, with children and vulnerable adults prioritised for slots.

England’s chief dental officer Sara Hurley said: ‘Dental services are a vital part of the NHS providing oral health care to all age groups, and that’s why we have taken this unprecedented action.’

The total number of dental procedures plummeted by 69 per cent during the pandemic, with dentists forced to close their doors entirely during the first lockdown.

Even before the pandemic, dentistry was in crisis. It is the only part of the NHS operating on a lower budget than a decade ago.

Many surgeries say it is no longer financially viable to offer NHS treatment, leading to an ‘exodus’ of dentists to the private sector.

Shawn Charlwood, from the British Dental Association, said yesterday’s funding package ‘must be just the start if we are to rebuild a service millions depend on.’ 

He added: ‘Hard-pressed practices are working against the clock, and many will struggle to find capacity ahead of April for this investment to make a difference.’

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