As many as 27,000 children in England are on waiting lists for NHS specialist dental care, including some with severe tooth decay and other serious problems, new analysis has shown.
Data, released by the NHS Business Services Authority, that around 12,220 children are on waiting lists for a procedure under general anaesthetic, with patients in some areas facing average waits of longer than 18 months.
The longest average wait was faced by children was 80 weeks in Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.
The data was published following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by the Liberal Democrats.
Integrated care boards (ICBs) gained commissioning responsibility for dentistry in April with a view to improving to improve local access.
But MPs last week warned ICBs do not have the ‘resources, tools or expertise’ to address inequal access to NHS dentistry.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: ‘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.’
Earlier in its inquiry, the Health and Social Care Select Committee criticised the lack of dentist representation on ICBs.