Dental services across Kent are being reviewed – as one county MP claims it is “almost impossible” for constituents to access NHS care.
Health service bosses say the review will ‘determine the priority for future commissioning’ at a time when many people say they are struggling to register with practices offering NHS treatment.
Ashford MP Damian Green told KentOnline he had received numerous complaints from locals about it.
A recent report by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) identified Kent as one of the worst ‘dental deserts’ in the country, with the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group providing just 45 NHS dentists per 100,000 people, l one of the lowest numbers nationally.
Speaking during a debate on the state of NHS dentistry, Mr Green told the Commons: “It is almost impossible in Ashford to find an NHS dentist.
“My frustration and that of my constituents over this is compounded by the lack of response from health services in general.
“From top to bottom, this system needs complete reform.”
The ADG report warns that the emergence of so-called “dental deserts” will have a wider impact on health outcomes, as routine dental checkups are a vital first line of defense against oral cancer and type 2 diabetes.
An NHS South East spokesperson said: “Dentists have been operating throughout the pandemic to treat those who need to be seen urgently and anyone in need of urgent dental treatment will get it from a local dentist.
“Practices have seen a gradual return, due to the requirement to follow national infection prevention guidelines, to now operate at 95% of pre-pandemic levels by resuming routine appointments.
“We are currently undertaking a review of the dental supply in Kent which will determine the priority for future commissioning of services.”