The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has revealed that only 60% of the dentists which left the NHS in 2020 have been replaced.
And it also noted that it has no plans to promote the role of dentists in diagnosing oral cancers.
The statistics about dentists being replaced were revealed following a written question by Labour MP for Bristol South Karin Smyth.
Replying to the question, health and social care minister Jo Churchill said the most recent data available was from January 2020 to September 2020.
“Of the 77 contracts terminated or handed back between January and September 2020, 41 contracts have been recommissioned or approximately 60%,” she said.
Oral cancer diagnosis
Labour MP for Bootle Peter Dowd also posed several questions regarding Cancer Research’s projection that oral cancer will rise by 33% in the UK from 2014 to 2035.
He asked whether the department had assessed the potential merits of increasing patients’ awareness of the dental services available to support the diagnosis of oral cancer and the importance of those services.
Churchill noted that no assessment had been made but that it was believed dentists only played a minor role in spotting oral cancer.
“While dentists can play an ad hoc role in detecting potential oral cancers as a by-product of dental check-ups, oral cancer is primarily detected through the medical system,” she said.
“The department currently has no plans to promote dentist appointments for the specific purpose of oral cancer diagnosis. Patients with concerns should seek advice from their general practitioner and not wait for their next dental appointment.”