Rise in oral cancer deaths linked with the shortage of NHS dentists

Rise in Oral Cancer Deaths Linked with the Shortage of NHS Dentists

A sharp rise in deaths from mouth cancers over the last decade is linked to a decline in access to NHS dentists, patients and oral health campaigners have said.

More than 3,000 people in England died from mouth cancer in 2021, compared with 2,075 in 2011, according to figures by Oral Health Foundation (ORF), representing an increase of 46%.

Nigel Carter, chief executive of the ORF, said: “With access to NHS dentistry in tatters, we fear that many people with mouth cancer will not receive a timely diagnosis.”

Ray Glendenning, 64, a jaw tumour patient, told the BBC he had to get a private diagnosis after being turned down by several NHS dentists.

The ORF, Toothless in England (TIE), a group that campaigns for free dentistry, and the British Dental Association (BDA) said the rise was a direct result of cuts to NHS dentistry. This is reinforced with a recent report published by the Health and Social Care Committee found that NHS dentistry is in crisis and need of fundamental reform.*

The NHS dental crisis, characterized by long waiting times, a shortage of dentists, and limited access to essential oral healthcare services, is a growing concern. In this article, we will delve into the causes, consequences, in this ongoing issue.

The Underlying Causes

Dentist Shortage

One of the biggest causes of the dental shortage is that many of our current NHS dentists are aged 55 plus, thus approaching retirement age. To add to the problem, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain NHS dentists as many move to the private sector. According to the British Dental Association (BDA), around 3,000 dentists have moved from NHS to private dentistry in the last two years.

Funding Constraints

NHS dental care is chronically underfunded. The fees paid to dentists for NHS treatments are often insufficient, leading many practices to shift their focus towards private care, where they can charge higher fees. This financial incentive further strains the NHS dental system, as more patients opt for private care, exacerbating the shortage of available NHS dental appointments.

Complex Contractual System

The NHS dental system operates on a complex contractual framework, which many practitioners find complex and time-consuming to navigate. This has led to a reduced interest in providing NHS dental services among practitioners, as the bureaucratic process can be overwhelming.

Consequences of the Crisis

Inadequate Oral Healthcare

The consequences of the NHS dental crisis are alarming. A lack of access to dental care can result in a wide range of oral health issues going untreated. This includes tooth decay, gum disease, and even serious conditions that can have wide health implications. Preventive care is often neglected, leading to avoidable health complications.

Mental and Emotional Toll

Prolonged waiting times and the inability to access timely care can take a significant harm on patients’ mental and emotional well-being. Dental pain and discomfort can lead to anxiety, depression, and a diminished quality of life.

Greater Strain on Other Healthcare Services

The NHS dental crisis places an additional problem on other healthcare services. Patients who cannot access dental care often resort to seeking assistance from general practitioners or emergency departments, further stretching already limited resources.

The NHS dental crisis is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention and action. Without sufficient funding, an expanded workforce, efficient contracts, and increased public awareness, the crisis will persist, affecting the oral health and overall well-being of countless individuals.

Kate Barge, one of our Dental Negligence Solicitors who has a significant experience dealing with dental negligence claims, looks at the negative impact of the NHS dental crisis.

It is of great concern that some individuals are unable to obtain appointments with NHS Dentists. This appears to be causing delays in the diagnosis of serious dental conditions.

It is likely that these delays in some cases will cause individuals to have to undergo much more invasive and painful treatments which would not have been required with earlier diagnosis and treatment.

What should I do if I have received negligent dental treatment?

Negligent dental treatment can cause extraordinary pain and suffering. In addition, if your appearance is negatively affected your confidence and mental health can also deteriorate.

Dentists have a duty to act with due care and skill and if your dentist’s negligent acts or omissions have caused you harm you may be entitled to compensation.
This compensation can assist with paying for private dental treatment to repair the damage caused and cover medical expenses and loss of income if you have to take time off work.

Our intelligent, compassionate Dental Negligence Solicitors will carefully listen to your experience and, if they believe you have a compelling case, robustly advise and represent you, ensuring your best interests are always protected.

Our team has decades of combined experience in successfully advising and representing clients in dental negligence cases.

We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Contact us today to discuss your claim.

*The Guardian


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