Thousands of children missing out on free check-ups
FEWER THAN HALF OF KIDS IN HILLINGDON HAVE BEEN TO THE DENTIST IN PAST YEAR
MORE than 120,000 children in Hillingdon, Ealing, Hounslow and Harrow have not seen an NHS dentist in the past year, according to newly released figures.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said the rate of check-ups for children is a “national disgrace” and put it down to a lack of information to engage hard-toreach families.
NHS data shows that 41% of children in Ealing, 52% of children in Hillingdon, 39% of children in Hounslow and 51% of children in Harrow have not had a dental check-up in the 12 months to September 2018.
It means 37,695 children in Hillingdon, 24,865 children in Hounslow, 33,331 children in Ealing and 29,419 children in Harrow have not been for a check-up over the period, despite NHS guidelines saying they should be seen at least once a year.
NHS dental care for children is free, but a poll conducted by the BDA last year revealed that one in four parents are unaware that there is no charge for routine check-ups for children.
The BDA’s chair of general dental practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said that current outreach programmes were more likely to target people who already visit their dentist.
He said: “The fact nearly five million children are missing out on free dental care is nothing short of a national disgrace, but is the logical result of policies from successive governments.
“In Scotland and Wales dedicated national programmes are reaching out in nurseries and primary schools, yet in England the authorities have offered a few posters to pop up in dental practices.
“Tooth decay is a preventable disease and remains the leading cause of hospital admissions for children, but instead of public information campaigns Westminster has offered radio silence.”
Over the 12 months to June, 3,345 children in Ealing , 3,155 children in Hounslow, 1,921 children in Harrow and 1,992 children in Hillingdon received some kind of urgent dental treatment.
According to dentists, these are mainly tooth extractions or fillings.
Among adults, 138,900 people in Ealing, 104,400 people in Hounslow, 86,500 people in Hillingdon and 77,900 people in Harrow saw an NHS dentist in the 24 months prior to October 2018.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We want every single child and adult to have access to NHS care, whatever their background or location – and last year a record 6.9 million children were seen by a dentist, with numbers rising every year.”
Parents are being urged to take their children for a check-up