The Dentist Magazine.

NHS dentists achieve new highs in public satisfaction

Published: 21/04/2017

The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed new data from the King's Fund showing satisfaction in NHS dentistry at a nearly two-decade high.

Analysis of the British Social Attitudes Survey shows satisfaction among the public in NHS dentistry is up seven percentage points since 2015, to 61 per cent, with some of the highest ratings seen since the early 1990s. Satisfaction fell to the low 40s in the 2000s as a new NHS contract sent shockwaves through the service and generated access problems across England and Wales.

The BDA has said dentists should take real pride in what they have achieved despite government indifference, sustained underfunding and the barriers presented by the target-driven 2006 contract that still remains in place. NHS dentists in England and Wales have seen their incomes – currently the only potential source of capital investment in the service – fall by 35 per cent in real terms in the last decade. This week they were granted a below-inflation 1 per cent pay uplift.

No commitments on NHS dentistry were offered in today’s Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View. Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among children in the UK.

Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said, "This profession can take pride in the fact that public satisfaction in NHS dentistry has hit a near 20-year high in spite of chronic underfunding and discredited contracts. 

"Trust between patient and practitioner is the foundation of effective healthcare. The 2006 contract inflicted a nearly fatal wound at the heart of the service and this recovery has come off the back of hard work and in the face of government indifference.

"It’s a miracle NHS dentists have been able to overcome all the hurdles placed in front of us to do right by our patients. It shows what might be possible if this ‘Cinderella service’ received appropriate priority. We are dealing with an epidemic of oral disease among children and it’s a tragedy ministers seem so unwilling to put their talk on prevention into practice.”