Children waiting for specialist dental care

1 Aug 2023

404 children in the Berkshire healthcare NHS Trust area are on waiting lists for specialised dental care.

404 children in Berkshire 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 the area are waiting 12 weeks for specialised dental treatment under General Anaesthetic after a referral.


The Liberal Democrats said the figures were “heartbreaking” 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 across the country, 27,000 children were waiting for a routine assessment for community dental services 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.


The Liberal Democrats are urging the government to take immediate steps to address this dental crisis. The party 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 the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and children’s toothpaste.


Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Wokingham, Clive Jones said:


“It is heartbreaking 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.”