NHS dentistry 'not fit for purpose' in 10 years' time

Seventy-two per cent of dentists believe that NHS dentistry will not be fit for purpose in 10 years’ time – that’s according to a poll carried out by Practice Plan at the British Dental Conference and Exhibition in Manchester. 

Adding some fun to election day on 7th May, but asking some serious questions about dentistry and the future of the NHS, the poll also reveals that the majority of dentists (66%) do not think that, going forward, NHS dentistry will be able to provide the right balance of treatment versus prevention.  Furthermore, while a third (33%) of dentists thought the Conservatives could be trusted with NHS dentistry, a similar number (29%) felt that none of the political parties could be depended upon with this aspect of state-funded healthcare.

With 62% of respondents working in a practice offering either predominantly NHS or mixed treatment, these figures offer significant insight into dentists’ views on the NHS.   The poll also revealed that if they were in David Cameron’s shoes, the majority would support NHS dentistry through increased spending, closely followed by wanting to change the current contract. These feelings were further reinforced by respondents’ finding a lack of time and the potential financial repercussions of the UDA banding system the greatest challenges they face in the present climate.

In addition, with cosmetic treatment considered by dentists to the biggest influence in dentistry at the moment, expanding beyond NHS care seems a distinct possibility for those who have not already done so.

Speaking about the poll, Nairn Wilson, President of the BDA, said: ‘It was great to see dentists being given the opportunity on the 7th May not only to vote in the general election but also to indicate how they feel about dentistry and the NHS.’

Nigel Jones, Practice Plan’s Sales Director, commented: ‘Since the election, we have struggled to gain any concrete understanding of what the future holds for NHS dentistry since, it is sad to say, David Cameron overlooked its significance in his first post-election speech, which was all about the NHS.

‘Dentists have been promised much in the past in terms of providing the very best care for patients and fair remuneration within the NHS, and the Conservative party needs to let them know where they now stand with it. Otherwise, who is to say how many more dentists would be concerned that NHS dentistry won’t be fit for purpose – if Practice Plan were to ask the same questions in 12 months’ time?’

Over 130 people completed Practice Plan’s poll at BDA. The aim of the poll was to provide a snapshot of perceptions about the future of dentistry alongside the general election.