Foord warns of ‘dental timebomb’ as Axminster practice goes private

8 Jul 2024
Richard Foord pictured in front of Axminster Guildhall

Honiton & Sidmouth MP Richard Foord has warned that time is running out to stop the ticking ‘dental timebomb’ across rural Devon, as Axminster Dental Practice becomes the latest local dentist to stop taking NHS patients and shift to only offering private care.

In a letter to residents of Axminster, the practice confirmed that the NHS dental contract was no longer able to meet the needs of providing this important treatment and from 1st October all patients will have to shift to a private dental plan.

Because of this change, people will be left facing substantially higher bills to receive the same care. For example, the cost of a twice-yearly dental check-up is currently £52 but under the new Dental Plan this will rise to £144 a year – a staggering 174% increase.

Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has warned that the increasing number of dentists dropping NHS work in favour of more rewarding private care, as is happening in Axminster, will leave thousands across rural Devon unable to get the important care they need.

He’s calling for the new Government to urgently reform the NHS dental contract, in line with recommendations from the British Dental Association, that would ensure this work pays fairly and offers greater incentives for dentists who have went private to once again offer NHS care.

Richard Foord MP said:

“Right across our towns and villages, people are left struggling to get the dental care they need. The news that Axminster Dental Practice will shift away from NHS work from October is yet another blow to residents, many of whom were already struggling to find NHS dental care.

“Our area has seen a swathe of dentists going private in recent years because the current NHS contract does not pay fairly for the work they do. Many dentists face no choice but to offer more private care in order to cover their costs, leaving us paying higher bills for treatment or simply having to go without.

“Having access to NHS dentistry is vital to people’s health. Too many people - including thousands of children - have been left suffering with dental pain. Some people have needed to be admitted to hospital because of undiagnosed or untreated oral health issues, and some have even resorted to DIY dentistry and removed their own teeth at home.

“The previous Conservative government offered only warm words about NHS dentistry, while also failing to take real action to stop this decay. Now, we face a situation where not a single dentist in all of Devon is taking on new NHS patients.

“The Labour government must urgently commission a full review of the NHS dental contract, working with the British Dental Association to make NHS work pay fairly and train up a new wave of dentists. They should also make it easier while we await new dentists to come on-stream for dentists from Europe to practice here in the UK.”

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