The British Dental Association said the latest figures – which show treatments remain below pre-pandemic levels across England despite increased activity – show NHS dentistry is “on its last legs” and needs an urgent change.
In the year ending March, a total of 179,348 treatment courses were provided to adults and children in the former Wigan CCG area, according to figures from NHS Digital. .
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This was more than double the 71,038 treatments given in 2020-21, but still 34% below the pre-pandemic figure of 270,730.
Different figures show that in the two years to June, 112,766 adults visited their local NHS dentist in Wigan, representing 43% of the population over 18.
This represented another 48% drop in the 24 months to June 2021, which saw dental business first hampered by the pandemic, and a 60% drop in the two years to June 2019.
Some 51% of children (35,372) were seen by NHS dentists between July 2021 and June this year, compared to 35% in the same period the year before and 65% in 2018-19.
Across England, dentists carried out 26.4 million treatments in 2021-22, although the BDA said this was only two-thirds of the average volumes delivered each year in the five years before the pandemic – 39.4 million.
Eddie Crouch, chairman of the BDA, said: “What we are seeing is not a recovery, but a serve on its last legs.
“The government will fool itself and millions of patients if it tries to hide these numbers.
“NHS dentistry is light years away from what it needs to be. Unless ministers step in and deliver much-needed reform and decent funding, this will remain the new normal.”
The BDA said that while new Prime Minister Liz Truss had promised urgent reform of NHS dentistry, there was no indication that the Treasury would be mandated to provide the cash needed to rebuild and reform the services.
The latest data comes after an analysis by the BDA and BBC earlier this month found that in England 91% of NHS practices were not accepting new adult patients – 4,933 out of 5,416.
According to figures from NHS Digital, 211 NHS dentists worked in the former NHS Wigan Borough CCG area in the year to March, meaning each had the equivalent of 1,567 patients on their list.
An NHS spokesperson said: “The latest data shows dental services are recovering from the pandemic, with more than 26 million patient treatments delivered last year – a 120% increase on the year previous year, plus 1.7 million more children seen by an NHS dentist.
“To further support the ongoing restoration of NHS dentistry, we recently announced the first significant changes to dentistry since 2006, helping practices improve access for the patients who need dental care the most.”
In July, Clinical Commissioning Groups were abolished and replaced by Integrated Care Councils across England.