120 children in Torbay and South Devon are stuck on NHS waiting lists for specialised dental care, including some with severe tooth decay or other serious dental problems, shocking new figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
On average, children in Torbay and South Devon are waiting 34 weeks for specialised dental treatment under General Anaesthetic after a referral.
Steve Darling, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Torbay, said the figures were “shameful” and called for urgent action to tackle long waiting times and ensure children can access the emergency dental care they need.
The figures were released by the NHS in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats. They show that 27,000 children were waiting for a routine assessment for community dental services across the country in January 2023.
Community Dental Services provide treatments to a range of patients that need specialised care because they have specific needs. This can include children with severe untreated tooth decay, those with physical or learning disabilities and those who need specific treatment for complex dental problems.
Steve Darling is urging the government to take immediate steps to address this dental crisis. He is calling for the £400 million of NHS dental services funding that went unspent last year to be immediately deployed to bring waiting times for community dental services down and increase the number of NHS dental appointments.
The party’s plans also include providing additional resources for mobile dental units to visit schools, community centres and care homes, and removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Steve Darling said, “It is alarming to think that children in our community are being left waiting in pain for the specialised dental care they need.
“We need urgent action to give every child access to the dental care they need.
“NHS community dental services are a crucial lifeline for vulnerable patients across our society, from children to older people.
“The government must take urgent action to address this dental crisis, including tackling staff shortages and reforming the broken system that has driven dentists away from offering NHS appointments.”
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