SLN Statement on the Collapse of NHS Dental Services
Research by the British Dental Association (BDA) and the BBC issued in August 2022 showed that 9 out of 10 dental practices in the UK would not accept new adult NHS patients while 8 out of 10 refused to accept children as new NHS patients. As the BDA pointed out this is now an emergency for the survival of NHS dentistry and the access of much of the population of the UK to dental care and the maintenance of oral health. The situation has only been made worse by the pandemic which caused much of the UK’s dental services to be suspended for months or years. As the BDA points out a horrific decline in oral health for many people has reached the stage where people are pulling out their own teeth in an effort to relieve pain and building their own false teeth so they can keep eating. This announcement of this research is here:
The issue for socialists is other than obviously protesting about the need for the restoration of dental services and an overall oral health service as part of the NHS what political conclusions can we draw? The first is of course this is not some natural disaster, it is the result of political decisions by known people and political parties and therefore those responsible should be called to account. There are two important factors in the crisis – the first is the 2006 Contract for NHS dentistry put in place by the Blair government the second the process of austerity or cuts carried out by the Tories since 2010, also enforced by the devolved governments without significant protest. We can also state that what is happening in dentistry is the forerunner to a similar process in the rest of the NHS whereby people are either forced into private provision or cut off from care altogether due to poverty. The situation in the US where tens of millions have virtually no access to oral health services and massive queues of desperate people form whenever charitable free dental services are offered serves as a warning. The fact that both Starmer and has Shadow Health minion Streeting have been publicly bought by health privatisers is a clear indicator that the Parliamentary Labour Party intends to continue the Tories’ programme of dismantling the NHS.