The Progressive Alliance believes that ‘not enough’ is being done for families that are struggling to access NHS dentists, leaving them to suffer in silence or face whopping bills for private care.
Ward councillors have been contacted by frustrated residents who are unable to register themselves and their children with NHS dentists but cannot afford the costs of private treatment.
This is a nationwide issue; four out of five patients struggled to get an NHS appointment this summer, according to Healthwatch England.
Councillor Jane Carr, Lib Dem Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health, said: “The number of local people who are seeing their NHS dentist is declining rapidly, and just 30% of children in Milton Keynes saw an NHS dentist in the last year.
“It is heart-breaking to think that families are being turned away for seeking vital healthcare that they are entitled to.”
The Labour/Lib Dem Alliance has raised these issues with MK Together and NHS England.
NHS England has stated that dental surgeries are operating at a “significantly reduced capacity” due to COVID-19, which in turn has caused a backlog of patients requiring treatment.
Councillor Emily Darlington, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities, added: “The NHS has said that patients are being prioritised according to need, but we all know that prevention is better than cure – especially when it comes to teeth. Why should young children have to wait until they’re crying in pain before they can be seen?”
Dentists are now calling for an overhaul of the system, as they say the Government is not giving them enough money per NHS patient to increase NHS places.
Councillor Carr concluded: “Government underfunding is the reason why families are suffering. Dentists have lost a colossal amount of Government funding over the past decade, forcing people to pay astronomical prices for private care. The current system needs an overhaul before health inequalities deepen any further.”