Dental plan "too little too late" for 133,000 children not seen by an NHS dentist in Sussex

10 Feb 2024
James MacCleary head and shoulders against blurred background of buildings and sky

Lewes Liberal Democrats have criticised the Government's new dental plan as figures show 133,376 children in Sussex had not been seen by an NHS dentist in 12 months.

The research, commissioned from the House of Commons Library, estimates the number of children who weren't seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2023, based on the latest data from the health service.

It shows a staggering 42% of children who had not been seen by a dentist in Sussex over the twelve month period.

In Sussex 60% of adults had not been seen by an NHS dentist in the two years to June 2023. That equates to 796,196 people who went without NHS dental care over a 24 month period.

The Government's new Dental Plan will see cash incentives for NHS dentists, mobile dental services and dental teams visiting schools and nurseries.

It has previously been estimated that the NHS budget was underspent by a record £400m last year, due to dentists not finding it economic to take on NHS work.

The Lib Dems are calling for a dental healthcare rescue plan to boost the number of appointments. The Liberal Democrats are also calling for reforms to guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care, ending DIY dentistry and "dental deserts", and the removal of VAT on children's toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Lewes James MacCleary said:

"The government's plans are too little too late for local families who have been left waiting in pain struggling to get a dentist appointment.

"It is appalling that so many children in our area are struggling to see an NHS dentist when they need to. We know that if children can't access dental healthcare it can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning. And we know that tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 6 to 10.

"Instead of these half-baked reforms, we need a proper rescue package for dental healthcare. That means guaranteeing access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing emergency care, boosting the number of appointments and removing VAT on children's toothbrushes and toothpaste."

Notes:

The research from the House of Commons Library can be found here.

Tooth decay being the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 6-10 can be found here.