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The House of Commons Health & Social Care Committee have published a report in which it recommends that the Government undertake an urgent and fundamental reform of NHS dentistry to ensure people receive the dental and oral healthcare they need. The committee found that recommendations made by a previous committee some 15 years ago have still not been implemented. The report found that the cause of the current dentistry crisis is multifactorial, including:

  • Patients being unable to access routine dental check-ups and emergency care. A recent survey showed a fifth of Britons are not registered with a dentist.
  • Patients being unaware of what NHS dental treatment they are entitled to.
  • The Units of Dental Activity (UDA) system disincentivising dentists from treating new patients or patients with more complex dental needs.
  • Dentists either leaving the profession or ceasing NHS work in favour of more lucrative private work.

“This is totally unacceptable in the 21st Century”

The British Dental Association (BDA) say that, since March 2020, some 3,000 dentists have moved away from NHS work entirely. This shortage of NHS dentists is resulting in a decline in oral health amongst the general population and is impacting upon patients physical and psychological well-being. In some instances, this has led to patients carrying out the horrific act of ‘DIY dentistry’.

An extreme example of ‘DIY Dentistry’ was heard recently when a Suffolk women, who found herself in a NHS ‘dental desert’, admitted to pulling out 13 of her own teeth over a period of several months. Being left with an unsightly smile, the unfortunate lady then had to resort to crowd funding to raise enough money to have a set of dentures fitted at a private dentist.

The truth is, NHS dentistry is in need of urgent reform. For those dentists who remain willing to undertake NHS dentistry, there is unrelenting pressure to work through the backlog caused by the Corona Virus pandemic which increases the likelihood of substandard treatment and, in turn, gives rise to an increase in dental negligence claims.

Until suitable measures are implemented to address the crisis in NHS dentistry, it cannot be right that dental patients should be expected to accept the consequences of failing dentition and substandard treatment.

“To hear of someone in such stress and distress that they resorted to using pliers to extract their teeth demonstrates the crsis in NHS dental services.”

What should I do if I suspect I have received negligent dental treatment?

The intensity of severe toothache can be an extraordinary and harrowing experience. In addition, a patient’s confidence can be impacted by unsightly dentistry and this can impact upon their mental health.

Despite the current crisis in NHS dentistry, you are entitled to expect that dental treatment will be provided to a reasonable standard. Where there are shortcomings, it is only fair that the negligent dentist (through their indemnity provider) compensates you for the pain and suffering caused as well as the cost of remedial treatment.

Should you believe that you have received negligent dental treatment and you would like a free consultation to discuss your options, please call Aston Knight Solicitors today on 0161 399 1231 or click the ‘Contact’ button above to submit an online enquiry and one of our dedicated Solicitors will contact you to discuss your claim further.

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