Crisis in NHS dentistry leaving thousands of elderly care home residents unable to get appointments

Crisis in NHS dentistry leaving thousands of elderly care home residents unable to get appointments leaving many in excruciating pain and unable to eat, regulator warns

  • Care homes said not enough dentists were able or willing to visit to treat people
  • Those without NHS dental care access has risen from 6% in 2019 to 25% last year

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The proportion of care home residents never able to access an NHS dentist has quadrupled in just three years, a damning report reveals.

The care regulator warns a crisis in NHS dentistry means elderly people are being left in pain and unable to eat.

Some have badly fitted dentures, no access to a toothbrush or are ignored when they ask for a soft food diet, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says.

Its survey reveals the proportion of residents never able to access NHS dental care has grown from 6 per cent in 2019 to 25 per cent last year.

And the number of homes stating residents were always or mostly always able to do so has almost halved, from 67 per cent to 35 per cent. 

The proportion of care home residents never able to access an NHS dentist has quadrupled in just three years, a damning report reveals (stock image) The proportion of care home residents never able to access an NHS dentist has quadrupled in just three years, a damning report reveals (stock image)

The proportion of care home residents never able to access an NHS dentist has quadrupled in just three years, a damning report reveals (stock image)

Patient groups last night said the findings reflect a wider problem with dentistry access and called on the Government to tackle it.

Care homes told researchers that not enough dentists were able or willing to visit to treat people who may be less mobile. 

Mary Cridge, director of adult social care at the CQC, writes in the foreword to the survey report: ‘There is still a long way to go before people in care homes get consistent care, and equal access to NHS dentistry.’

Chris McCann, director of campaigns at Healthwatch England, the patient watchdog, said: ‘This report is a stark reminder that access to NHS dentistry needs immediate attention. 

‘The Government and NHS England have both taken action in recent months, but there are still fundamental changes required to fix NHS dentistry.’

The Department of Health and NHS England declined to comment on the report.

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