30,000 kids in city not seen den­tist in last year

Warwickshire Telegraph - - NEWS - By MIGUEL RO­DRIGUEZ

MORE than 30,000 chil­dren in Coven­try have not seen an NHS den­tist in the last year, ac­cord­ing to newly re­leased fig­ures.

De­spite check-ups and treat­ment be­ing free for un­der 18s, more than four in 10 of the city’s chil­dren missed out.

Tooth de­cay re­mains the lead­ing cause of hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for chil­dren.

But NHS data shows that 41 per cent of chil­dren in Coven­try has no den­tal check-up in the 12 months to Septem­ber 2018, sadly in line with the na­tional av­er­age.

That’s 31,620 chil­dren in the area not be­ing checked over the pe­riod, de­spite NHS guide­lines say­ing they should be seen at least once a year.

The Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion (BDA) said the rate of check-ups for chil­dren is “na­tional dis­grace” and put it down to a lack of in­for­ma­tion to en­gage hard-to-reach fam­i­lies. A poll con­ducted by the or­gan­i­sa­tion found one in four par­ents were not aware there was no charge for rou­tine check-ups for their chil­dren.

The re­main­ing 59 per cent of chil­dren in Coven­try did see a den­tist dur­ing the pe­riod.

Over the 12 months to June, 1,426 chil­dren re­ceived some kind of urgent den­tal treat­ment in Coven­try.

Ac­cord­ing to den­tists, these are mainly tooth ex­trac­tions or fill­ings.

Among adults, 145,300 peo­ple in Coven­try saw an NHS den­tist in the 24 months prior to Oc­to­ber 2018.

That is 53 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, com­pared with 51 per cent across Eng­land.

‘Not enough help’The BDA’s chair­man 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.”

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.”

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