West Sussex sees 19.4% rise in the number of NHS dentists leaving as Lib Dems announce £750 million ‘rescue package’

21 Jun 2024
NHS Dentist Services

The number of NHS dentists leaving in West Sussex has risen by 19.4% since 2018/19, House of Commons Library research, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed as the party has announced plans for a £750 million ‘rescue package’ for dentistry.

The Liberal Democrat plan would mean around a quarter increase in funding on the NHS dentistry budget in England, which would help reform the NHS contract to encourage more dentists to take on NHS work.

This would act as a ‘rescue package’ for dentistry in West Sussex as 43 NHS dentists left in 2022/23. That is a rise of 7 on the number of leavers compared with 2018/19, or an increase of 19.4%.

The situation threatens to get worse with 19% of NHS dentists in West Sussex nearing retirement age creating the potential for even fewer dentists to cope with already overstretched services.

Across England, the number of dentists leaving the NHS has risen by a third in the past four years. A further 3,532 dentists are nearing retirement age, over one in seven (14.6%) of the total dentists in the country.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for urgent reforms to the dental contract to deliver more NHS dentist appointments and free check-ups for children. The party’s plan, backed by funding of £750m a year by the end of the Parliament, would guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care by:

  • Bringing dentists back to the NHS from the private sector by fixing the broken NHS dental contract and using flexible commissioning to meet patient needs.
  • Introducing an emergency scheme to guarantee access to free NHS dental check-ups for those already eligible: children, new mothers, those who are pregnant and those on low incomes.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Mid Sussex, Alison Bennett, said:

“People across Mid Sussex are going without what should be the very basics in dental care, with it now practically impossible to get an appointment. 

“It cannot be acceptable that people across our area are forced to wait unnecessarily in pain, not knowing if they will even be able to register with a dentist let alone get an appointment.

“The Conservative party has pushed local health services and dentistry to their knees and it is people in our community paying the price.

“The Liberal Democrats have an ambitious plan to fix the dental contract and tackle the crisis in dental care. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to get rid of this appalling Conservative government and fix the NHS and care.”


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