Dentists Leaving NHS May Lead To Overstretching, Says GDC

Dentists Leaving NHS May Lead To Overstretching, Says GDC

Research by the General Dental Council suggests that the NHS dental service could  suffer ‘system-wide overstretching’ as NHS dentists switch to providing private services.

In a post analysing the key findings of the GDC’s research into the effects of COVID-19 on dental care, the regulator said its findings indicate “A possible shift by NHS providers to private provision, driven by the need to meet growing costs and to better mitigate the impacts of fallow time in relation to incomes and business costs.”

Evidence from the GDC’s research  suggested there was less demand from the public for private and mixed provision services.  They also found that respondents from social groups D and E were expecting to spend significantly less on dental services than other social groups.

The GDC said it had identified indicators of increasing competition in the private dental sector, alongside an increased demand for NHS dental services.

A fall in NHS dentist numbers, “Could result in a private sector that sees supply increasing as demand falls” said David Teeman, head of the GDC’s Head of Regulatory Intelligence.

“That could result in a private sector that sees supply increasing as demand falls, while the NHS may have to meet increasing demand with fewer professionals. The potential outcome could be system-wide overstretching,” he added.

The GDC’s research also found that as a result of the first lockdown, 70% of Black and 68% of Asian respondents agreed they would not go to a dental practice unless they had an urgent issue, compared to 52% of White respondents.

The GDC’s research also revealed that the proportion of people who said they would be less likely to visit the dentist for treatment was also significantly higher amongst people with physical and mental health conditions.

The GDC Mr Teeman said “Health inequalities were of course not created by COVID-19; however, taken as a whole, our research indicates that the pandemic could result in a perfect storm of circumstances which exacerbate existing inequalities.”


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