Government spending on dental care per person in England has fallen significantly, according to figures recently unveiled in Parliament.
Responses1 to Parliamentary Questions raised by Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle, showed that the equivalent of £41.83 per head was set aside by Government to cover dental care for every adult and child in England at the outset of the Coalition Government in 2010, which fell by more than £12 in real terms in 2017-18 to £29.69 - effectively a 29% fall over the period.
The BDA said the figures, mentioned by Health Minister with responsibility for dental care Steve Brine on 5 February 2019 showed the full scale of cuts to NHS dentistry in England.
The trade union said the current funding arrangements were 'cuts by stealth' and were driving a 'do more with less' mentality to breaking point thanks to budgets failing to keep pace with inflation and population growth of three million.
As state contributions had fallen, patients had been asked to contribute ever more through NHS charges, said the BDA, highlighting the fact that charge levels have increased by more than 30% since 2010, and now accounted for almost 30% of the total budget for NHS dentistry.
Dentistry had not received any of the NHS70 investment, and barely featured in the NHS Long Term Plan2 published in January 2019, said the union. Access and staffing problems had become endemic, with BDA surveys indicating that almost 60% of dentists were planning on reducing their commitment or leaving the NHS entirely in the next five years.
BDA Chair of General Dental Practice Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen said: 'There can be no rose tinting the fact more than £12 has been taken away from the dental care of every man, woman and child in England since 2010.
'These are cuts by stealth, and the public are paying for them through higher charges and longer waiting times. We've heard fine speeches about investment and prevention, but for NHS dentists the reality of 'do more with less' is being stretched to breaking point. And patients across England are seeing the result.
'A sustainable service cannot be built on sand. Every penny taken away from dentistry means pain left untreated and preventable conditions left to fester. It's a false economy that only piles further pressure on our NHS.'
House of Commons. Dental Services: Expenditure: Written question - 213397. 2019. Available at https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-01-28/213397/ (accessed February 2019).
Department of Health & Social Care. The NHS Long Term Plan. 2019. Available at https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-long-term-plan/ (accessed February 2019).
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£12 cut in dental spending per person since 2010. Br Dent J 226, 317 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0120-2