Two fifths of those living in the UK continue to find it difficult to book an NHS dental appointment.
This is according to a new report carried out by Healthwatch UK.
Findings also expose the growing health inequalities, highlighting a north-south divide in relation to access.
One in five people (20%) living in the south of England said they could afford private dental care. However just 7% of those living in the north of England said they could afford private treatment.
For example it concludes that those from social economic group (SEG) A are six times more likely to be able to pay for private dental care if they can’t find an NHS dentist compared to SEG G (48% and 8%, respectively).
The former category includes those with high-ranking managerial, administrative and professional roles. While the latter includes low-paid workers, pensioners and unemployed people on state benefits.
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Other findings include:
- Just over 40% of respondents said they found it difficult to book an NHS dental appointment
- One in five (20%) couldn’t access all the treatments they needed
- One in four (24%) respondents said they had to pay privately to get all the required treatment
- Nearly one third (29%) of respondents said a lack of access led to more serious health problems, making them feel anxious. Others said that they struggled to eat or speak properly as a result (16%) and made them avoid going out (14%).
Louise Ansari, national director at Healthwatch England said: ‘Access to NHS dentistry has been one of the most significant issues people have raised with us in the last two years. There is now a deepening crisis in dental care, leaving people struggling to get treatment or regular check-ups on the NHS.
‘The shortage of NHS appointments is creating a two-tier dental system. This widens inequalities and damages the health of the most disadvantaged communities.
‘With millions of households bearing the brunt of the escalating living costs, private treatment is simply not an option. Even NHS charges can be a challenge.
‘This needs urgent attention if the government is to achieve its levelling up plan and tackle health disparities.’
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