Why Are Dentists Not Seeing NHS Patients?

NHS Dentist Shortage

Why Are Dentists Not Seeing NHS Patients?

NHS dental care has been one of the most impacted sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic and the adjacent pressure on emergency services. Because of the backlog of appointments, dentists have been subjected to massive overtime and extended hours to try and alleviate the weight from the service in the short term to no avail.

Because of the underfunding and neglect experienced by the NHS dentistry sector pre-pandemic, there is now a massive NHS dentist shortage.

Studies have found that the number waiting for more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment stood at 304,044 – the highest number for any calendar month since January 2008. Following on from the pandemic, patients are now waiting 12.1 weeks for an appointment, up from 8.4 weeks in January 2020.

With so much difficulty trying to get an appointment, it’s no surprise that people want to know why. In this article, we will look at why exactly dentists are not seeing NHS patients, and advise you on your options for getting appointments elsewhere.

Why Is There An NHS Dentist Shortage?

The Covid-19 pandemic affected all parts of our daily lives in various different ways. Whilst some sectors such as the fast-food industry boomed, others like the medical sector struggled. And with the dentistry sector of the NHS having some of the lowest funding, it’s no surprise that we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and seeing the toll that it is having on our social services.

One of the reasons that there are no NHS appointments is because there are more patients than the NHS can cope with. Because it is underfunded and overused, doctors and dentists need to work tirelessly to make it through the growing number of daily patients, which can mean that appointments may not be available for some time. With the UK population currently sitting at almost 65 million people aided by 47,000 dental practitioners, services are stretched thin. This would mean that there are fewer NHS appointments because there is literally no time to fit more patients in.

The NHS has grown in demand for a number of reasons – as we came out of lockdown, many people found themselves much more image-conscious and willing to spend more money on cosmetic changes. Currently, the UK dental industry is worth £2.2 billion, driven on by a higher demand for treatments such as teeth whitening, straightening, veneers and fillings – but this has also limited the number of appointments available for those with more critical cases that need seeing quickly.

Although it has briefly been mentioned, a driving factor for the lack of appointments is underfunding. The NHS has experienced a decade of underfunding since 2010, despite cash boosts in 2018 and 2019; between 2009 and 2019, the NHS budgets rose on average just 1.4% per year, compared to 3.7% average rises since the NHS was established. The lack of funding has made it harder for dentists to get the resources they need to care for patients, leading to many being sent to the private sector instead for better and faster care. Even if the NHS did have enough equipment, there are not enough dentists in the UK to cope with the amount of annual patients, which limits appointments significantly.

All of this has a knock-on effect that can make it harder for people to get appointments in the future too; because of the way NHS dentistry has suffered from the pandemic, a lack of funding and treatment, there is a lack of new dentists to fill old positions. As of August 2021, roughly 15 months into the pandemic, about 5% of hygienists who were employed prior to the pandemic still had not returned to work, with many continuing to leave to date. Incoming hygienists will also not be enough to cover the lack of dentists, as first-year enrollment in dental hygiene programs in the fall of 2020 dropped by almost 7% compared to the previous year – even if enrollment rebounds, we will not feel its effects for years to come.

Ultimately, there are a number of reasons that all come together to make it difficult for NHS dentists to cope with the ongoing demand for treatment. If you want to avoid all of these issues and get quality treatment quicker, you may consider moving into the private dentistry sector, where you can find specialist teams that can complete operations for you at an affordable cost.

Do Private Dentists Offer More Appointments?

Private dentists are able to operate with a lot more autonomy and flexibility than standard NHS dentists. As a result, many can offer whatever treatments they want, giving them a much broader range of procedures than ones that the NHS can do. Typically, they also have more funding, more income and better-trained staff, making them an attractive choice for many in the UK. Because they are not as understaffed as the NHS, they can also offer more appointments.

Private dentists have the ability to offer many more appointments, and many more types of appointments, than standard NHS dentists. One of the most attractive features of a private dentist is their option for emergency appointments, which allows you to get seen with much less notice and much faster. With a staggering 30% of patients only attending a dentist if they need treatment, and with over 6 million people reporting having to put up with pain for over 2 weeks before getting care, emergency appointments are often the most beneficial choice for those who like to get in and out with little to no trouble.

Besides emergency appointments, private dentists can offer longer, more detailed and beneficial appointments that are specialised towards each individual patient and their needs. In a recent study, a total of 84% of private dentists said they were happy they can provide the level of care they want, compared to 17% of NHS dentists. From letting patients choose their own appointment times to adapting the length of the appointment for any queries and issues, the care and quality that you can get are unrivalled by NHS appointments.

Going private also means more appointments for cosmetic enhancements, follow-ups and consultations outside of operations, all of which can help to bring clarity to a patient’s needs and facilitate healing after any operations have gone ahead. Besides that, going private can also make sure that cosmetic and general dental operations are completed faster – by choosing to avoid using the NHS, you can skip the extensive wait times and get straight into the procedures. This can be a highly attractive choice for those who want to get their work completed faster and with less hassle, both of which are attainable by going private.

What Private Dentist Is Best For Me?

With a closer focus on dental hygiene and looks in today’s society following the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s no wonder that so many are looking for the best place to get all of their work done.

Didsbury Dental Practice is settled in the inviting neighbourhoods of South Manchester and surrounded by the beautiful estates of their clientele. Widely regarded as one of the best dental facilities in the city, they utilise their team of specialist, highly-trained professionals to provide innovative care to not only solve the problem but ensure that it never arises again.

With every consultation, they strive to reinvest the meaning of care; a range of operations and procedures are featured in their catalogue, including general and cosmetic dentistry treatments including emergency dentistry, teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, white fillings, dental implants, invisible braces and much more.

Didsbury Dental Practice can be such an attractive choice for patients for their rapid response times and easy emergency booking. Unlike NHS services, there are always available appointments at a time convenient to you, and their team will always do their best to accommodate you.

Do You Need An Emergency Appointment?

If you are suffering from dental issues that are causing pain or discomfort, it’s always best to book an appointment as soon as possible. Our specialist team is on hand around the clock to provide quality care and services to alleviate your pain and restore your faith in the dental industry; with our innovative equipment and personalised skill sets, we are able to provide you with a compassionate and affordable service that will change your dental health forever.

Our mission is always to reinvent the traditional dental practice and provide a service which is reflective of modern-day issues and solutions. We have always been proud to be able to say that our dynamic service achieves these goals every time we see a patient.

For more information on how to reach us and book your appointment, you can call Didsbury Dental Practice on 0161 445 0005 at any time of the day for swift support. Alternatively, you can contact a member of our team for help booking your appointment and finding the option that’s best for you.

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