Written evidence submitted by Dr Connor Rogerson (DTY0001)
I am writing to provide evidence to the NHS Dentistry Services Enquiry. I am a member of the public and have struggled over the past three years to access a NHS dentist.
My wife and I moved to Suffolk in 2020 from Manchester, where I was registered with a NHS dentist. After registering with my local GP, I attempted to register with a local NHS. I was actually surprised to see that not a single dentist was accepting NHS patients, but what I found infuriating is that they were able to see me within the week if I registered as a private patient. Providing dental care only to those who can afford it completely goes against the core principle of the NHS: that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay. In the interim, my wife became pregnant, which entitles her to free NHS dental treatment, however she was unable to claim this as she was unable to register at a NHS dentist. I am increasingly worried that we will not be able to get dental treatment for our daughter. My wife and I are both UK taxpayers, and therefore contribute to the NHS ,including NHS dentistry. However, we are never able to access this service even though we pay for it.
The government and NHS England need a severe reform of the dentists across the UK to provide the British public the treatment is deserves and requires. The government should mandate that registered UK dentists must legally provide NHS dentistry. Dentists should not be allowed to refuse a patient if they wish to access NHS dentistry. Of course dentists would still be free to provide private treatments, but a prerequisite for their practice licence would be that NHS treatment must be provided. ICSs role would be to investigate dental clinics and ensure they are providing NHS services. To ensure people always have access to a dentist, ICSs can set up or take control of dental practices that fail to provide NHS services. The NHS dental contract also needs serious reform to ensure that dentists are appropriately remunerated for providing services. Clearly the free market has failed in providing dental services to the British public, and tinkering around the edges to try and incentivise dental practices will not work. What is needed here is strong leadership from the government.
I hope you find my story and suggestions useful and enlightening to what members of the public want.