101,857 children in Surrey not seen by an NHS dentist in the last 12 months
520,405 of Surrey’s adults not seen by an NHS dentist in the past 2 years
Lib Dems call for boost to NHS dentistry so that no one is forced to pay hundreds of pounds for private care, along with cut to VAT on children’s toothpaste
Over 100,000 children in Surrey have not been seen by an NHS dentist for at least a year, shocking new figures published by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
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 NHS Surrey Heartlands, which provides dentistry services to Esher and Walton.
It also revealed the proportion of children not seen by an NHS dentist in Surrey. For the previous year, a staggering 45.3% of children had not been seen by a dentist.
This is despite the NHS recommending that under-18s see a dentist at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster, compared to two years for adults. Tooth decay is also the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 6-10.
In Surrey, 66.2% of adults have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the past two years. That equates to 520,405 people who went without dental care in the last 24 months.It comes as the Liberal Democrats are set to adopt their pre manifesto at their autumn conference this weekend, including a commitment to reform NHS dentistry so that no one is forced to pay hundreds of pounds for private care
The party is also calling for an emergency rescue plan for NHS dentistry, including spending any funding that has gone unspent in recent years to boost the number of appointments as well as the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Esher and Walton, Monica Harding said:
“Every parent knows how important it is to ensure that their children can see a dentist when they need to. Leaving children in pain can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning.
“This Conservative government has shown a total disregard for every aspect of our health service and the people of Esher and Walton are bearing the brunt of it. Wherever you look, the NHS is crumbling.
“This has to act as a wake-up call for the government. A rescue package for NHS Surrey Heartland’s dentistry provision is urgently needed. That means reforming NHS dentistry to boost the number of appointments along with removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”
Notes to Editors
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.
It has previously been estimated that the NHS budget is set to be underspent by a record £400m this year, due to a shortage of dentists willing to take on NHS work.