Campaigners warn £5m funding injection will not fix East Anglian dentistry 'crisis'

Many people have had to wait for years for check-ups.
Many people have had to wait for years for check-ups. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dentists in the East of England are to receive more than £5.5m to help provide thousands of extra appointments.

It comes after unions warned last week that free dentistry was "hanging by a thread", with some patients waiting years for check-ups.

The government has now committed to spending £50m nationwide to help tackle the problem, with the money expected to fund 350,000 additional appointments.

Children and people with learning disabilities, autism, or severe mental health problems will be prioritised for treatment as part of what the NHS are calling a "dentistry blitz".

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, said: "Dental services are a vital part of the NHS, providing oral health care to all age groups, and that’s why we have taken this unprecedented action to boost NHS dental services.

“More than 600 urgent dental health hubs were rapidly ramped up during the pandemic to deliver urgent care for patients, and the NHS is now getting key services like dentistry back to pre-pandemic levels – injecting an extra £50m into routine services will help provide check-ups and treatment for hundreds and thousands of people.”

The news has been met with a lukewarm reception from campaigners who argue that the money is “a mere drop in the ocean”. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for Toothless in England said that the cash injection "won't fix the crisis".

“This extra funding, welcome though it is, is a mere drop in the ocean and won’t fix the dental crisis," said Mark Jones from Toothless in England.

"As far as we at Toothless in England are concerned, it won’t put an end to people pulling out their own teeth, all because they can’t find a dentist.

"It won’t put an end to dental charities meant to help the needs of developing countries from helping meet the emergency needs in our own communities either."