NHS Denistry treatment on the verge of collapse dentists warn

by UTV Reporter William Esler

Dentists are warning that the NHS Dentistry service cannot survive on the current funding model.

New figures show that the number of examinations carried out by NHS dentists here is down 61% compared to pre-Covid levels – dentists say that is a direct result of Covid

“Since we have opened up again, we haven’t seen a lot patients for two years and a lot can happen in someone’s mouth in two years,” British Dental Association Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee Ciara Gallagher told UTV.

“What we’re finding is that people who would have come in and had their check-up and a clean are now coming in with treatment needs and thus they need to come back maybe two or three times where they didn’t have to before. So for that one patient there is probably five or six examinations that we are not getting to carry out.”

The British Dental Association warned in March that 50% of dentists were looking at turning to more private work as they were losing money carrying out NHS treatments.

“If a patient comes into us and needs an extraction because the tooth is unsaveable and needs to be taken out, the fee that the Department of Health pay us for this is less than people pay for gel nails and less than what you pay for a haircut and blow-dry,” Ciara added.

“At the moment NHS dentistry is not a sustainable business model. The contract is out of date and ultimately the patients are going to be the ones that suffer and we don’t want that. We want to look after our patients, we want to do Health Service dentistry but we are finding as we go back to our old funding model we are going to be pushed out.”