David McGuire, the Chief Executive of Diagrama Foundation is asking for a review of access to NHS dental care for the residents of care homes across England after a damming report released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in March 2023.
The 2022 “Smiling Matters” report published by the CQC states one of the strongest themes emerging from the report was the extreme challenge care home providers were having in accessing dental care for people.
25%, or a quarter of care home residents, can never access NHS dental services. This figure has increased dramatically from the previous CQC report in 2019 which stated that 6% of care home residents did not have access to NHS dental care.
Mr McGuire feels the results of the March CQC Smiling Matters report should lead to a Government investigation about how the current situation can be improved.
David said, “We are experiencing difficulties with access to NHS dentists across all our care homes. At our care home in Clacton, most of our residents have to pay for private treatment or travel 18 miles to Colchester where we are able to access limited NHS treatments. In some cases, we need to use community dental care, but waiting times are uncomfortably long, as not enough dentists are able or willing to visit care homes to treat people who may be less mobile, meaning private treatment is the only option.”
The 2022 CQC report states ‘We are concerned that people living in care homes are missing out on vital care from dental practitioners – both at the right time and in the right place. The proportion of care home providers saying that people who use their services could 'never' access NHS dental care rose by more than 4 times – from just 6% in 2019 to 25% in 2022.’
David continued, “The NICE guideline NG48, published in July 2016, recognised the importance of good oral care for people in care homes yet the situation in terms of access to NHS dental care is worsening not improving. Poor oral health can be linked to weight loss, and we want to do all we can to prevent the health of people in our care deteriorating.”
The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.
Between April and June 2022, the CQC inspected 50 care homes, and asked in-depth questions about oral health care to find out what has changed since their original set of special inspections that were completed in January 2019.
To view the CQC report Smiling matters: Oral health in care homes - progress report, visit