Over a third of Barnet dentists cannot currently offer NHS appointments

 Thirty six per cent of dentists (19 practices) in Barnet who took part in a survey have said they cannot currently offer adults an NHS appointment, and 25 per cent (13 practices) cannot currently offer children an NHS appointment - both because the allocation of NHS dentistry treatments in Barnet has not changed since 2006 despite the growing population and increasing concerns about the effect of sugar on children's teeth. 

The information was revealed in a mystery shopping exercise carried out by Healthwatch Barnet and reported to the recent Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (8 February). Healthwatch contacted 53 practices in Barnet who are contracted to provide NHS dentistry care. From the findings the group commented that a significant proportion are not able to provide NHS appointments and 'it is particularly difficult to access NHS dentistry in Barnet, which reflects the picture that we are told exists by residents'.

Each dentist that is part of the NHS has an allocated number of treatments per year that are funded. Any treatments beyond this allocated quota are not funded with the result that dentists stop offering NHS appointments until the following financial year. This means it is easier to receive treatment in May than in March. The current treatment allocation is based on the borough's population in 2006 so as one of the fastest growing areas in London Barnet residents find it more difficult to get an NHS appointment than in other parts of the capital. Barnet's population has grown from 329,100 in 2005 to 364,000 in 2012 according to figures from Public Health England.
 
The Healthwatch Barnet report was an update to a report in 2015 that was originally undertaken following a member's item from Cllr Arjun Mittra (Labour: East Finchley ward) to the Health Scrutiny Committee. That earlier report also found that dental patients in Barnet did not receive enough information and recommended that all patients should be given a clear list of NHS dentistry costs, and a clear written treatment plan before any treatment was started.

Labour’s Health Spokesperson, Cllr Phil Cohen said: “It is unacceptable that over a third of dentists find they are unable to currently offer NHS appointments in Barnet, and it's clear that is because the treatment allocations have not been updated for ten years. In that time Barnet's population has grown by nearly 35,000.  We need the dentistry treatment allocation from NHS England to be updated to take account of current population levels to ensure that people are able to access NHS dentists when they need to."

Ends.

Notes:

1.      For details of the Healthwatch Barnet dentistry reports and the NHS England response see: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=179&MId=8376&Ver=4 

For more information contact:

Cllr Phil Cohen: cllr.p.cohen@hotmail.co.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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