Joint report from Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation – a response from BSPD
The power and clarity of a new report from the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation is applauded by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD). The report, ‘Root causes: quality and inequality in dental health’, is published as part of the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation’s Quality Watch programme.
It identifies a consistent gap between the dental health of the rich and poor, with parents of children eligible for free school meals finding it harder to access a dentist. The very clear north-south divide in good dental health in England is also highlighted.
Report author and Nuffield Trust Director of Research, Professor John Appleby comments, “As a nation our dental health is improving, but it is shocking that your income or where you live can still determine your dental health, how likely you are to be hospitalised with dental problems and how easily you can access the dental treatment you need.”
Claire Stevens, BSPD President said, “This report is important because it highlights the steps that policy-makers need to take. We hope very much that the report’s findings and recommendations will feed into the Government’s thinking.
“The report shows that while dental charges have risen, the amount of money spent on NHS dentistry is 15 per cent lower than in 2010/11. However, the issues which need resolving are strategic and complex and will not be solved simply by increasing spending on NHS dentistry.
“We have the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board which is working with a wide range of child-focused organisations. The Board and its participants, which includes the BSPD, are working to embed dentistry in all aspects of health and education. We need to make it easier for children in the most deprived areas to get the dental care and preventive advice they need.
“We applaud this report but we also think it’s important to recognise the huge steps that have already been taken with the launch of the Starting Well initiative. While this is limited to 13 areas of England where children’s dental health is poorest, SMILE4LIFE, which is designed to promote oral health up and down the country, is also building momentum.”