Dentists call for increased NHS funding, as patients head to A&E and GP surgeries for free treatment
Dentists have urged the government to increase NHS funding, as figures reveal people are increasingly likely to go to A&E departments and GP surgeries where they can receive free treatment.
Statistics show that government spending on NHS dentistry has decreased by £4.95 per person in the last five years, and dentists are worried that the cuts are having a negative impact both on standards of oral health and pressure on other health services. Accident and Emergency departments are already under extraordinary pressure, and the majority of GP surgeries are incredibly busy. Doctors and nurses also don’t have the necessary training or the equipment and treatments available to provide long-term relief for patients. They can prescribe painkillers and anti-biotics, but they can’t treat the root cause of dental issues, and therefore, the solution is usually only temporary.
Dentists are concerned that rising fees are causing people to look elsewhere when they have toothache or a dental infection that requires urgent treatment. In the last five years, the income from dental charges has increased from £653 million to £777 million and surveys suggest that one-fifth of patients have put off going to the dentist because they can’t afford it.
According to the British Dental Association, around 135,000 people attend A&E departments every year due to dental problems. This costs the NHS approximately £18 million. In addition, a further 600,000 patients visit their GP for advice at a cost of more than £26 million per year.
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