Over two hundred thousand children and almost 1 million adults have not been seen by an NHS dentist for at least a year in West Yorkshire, 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 the health service.
It also revealed the proportion of children not seen by an NHS dentist in West Yorkshire. For the previous year, a staggering 39.9% 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. Yorkshire and the Humber region has the highest rate of extraction of teeth in children in the country, it is five times higher than the East Midlands.
In West Yorkshire 52.9% of adults have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the past two years. That equates to 954,877 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.
Bradford Liberal Democrat Health campaigner Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Bradford Moor Ward) 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 Bradford and West Yorkshire 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 West Yorkshire dentistry is urgently needed. That means reforming NHS dentistry to boost the number of appointments along with removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”