Harrogate & District has the longest average waiting time in England for children requiring dental work under general anaesthetic, and 1362 children on waiting lists for specialised dental care.

19 Jul 2023

Harrogate & District has the longest average waiting time in England for children requiring dental work under general anaesthetic, and 1362 children on waiting lists for specialised dental care.

1362 children in Harrogate & District are stuck on NHS waiting lists for specialist 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 80 weeks for specialised dental treatment under General Anaesthetic after a referral. Harrogate & District has the longest average wait time in England.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures were “heartbreaking” and called for urgent action to tackle long waiting and ensure children can access the emergency dental care they need.

The figures were released by the NHS following 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 or 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 last year’s unspent NHS dental services funding 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.

Tom Gordon, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Harrogate & Knaresborough, 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.” 

“Earlier this year I met with Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, and we called for Government Ministers to urgently visit and get to grips with the dental crisis. I once again urge Ministers to do the right thing, visit and see the problems first hand, and take action at once. 

“Harrogate & Knaresborough desperately needs and MP that will stand up for our interests and fight for improved provision of dental services. 

“It is scandalous that local children across Harrogate & District face the longest average waiting time, waiting typically over a year and half, for serious dental treatments that require general anaesthetic. This Conservative Government is failing our children, we must demand better.