Tue, 06 Jun 2023

The Health and Social Care's Business Services Organisation (BSO) has today published its Family Practitioner Services General Dental Statistics for Northern Ireland 2021/22.

This National Statistics report contains high level summary information on activity and payments in relation to General Dental Services. Information is provided at NI level with further breakdowns presented at both Local Commissioning Group (LCG) and Local Government District (LGD) level.

The publication is available on the Business Services Organisation's website at www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/services/3173.htm

Key Points

From March 2020, General Dental Services were significantly restricted with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This had a major impact on GDS Items of Service (IOS) activity levels and the number of patients seen over the last two financial years. As such individual contractors were provided Financial Support Scheme (FSS) payments to stabilise their IOS payments in 2020/21 and 2021/22. The rebuilding of dental services commenced in phases from 8 June 2020. From 20 July 2020, routine dental care could be offered and Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) provided in general dental practice.

The key points from the 2021/22 report are:

Dental Services

  • In Northern Ireland, there were 365 dental practices with 1,146 dentists registered to carry out health service treatments at the end of March 2022. The number of dentists registered has increased by 13% over the last decade although it has remained reasonably stable over the last 2 years.
  • At Northern Ireland level, 94% of the population live within five miles of a health service dental practice, with at least 88% of the population living within three miles in more urban LGDs.

  • The number of female dentists exceeds males, currently making up 59% of the workforce. In particular, the majority of new dentists are female, with 71% of dentists aged under 35 being female while the reverse is true in the older age groups with 63% of dentists aged 50 and above being male.
  • 67% of the population is registered with a health service dentist including 72% of children. Whilst the overall registration rate has increased by 3 percentage points since March 2020, the proportion of children registered has fallen by the same percentage during this period.
  • Fermanagh and Omagh LGD has a significantly lower proportion of the adult population registered (49%) compared to all other LGDs, however its registration rate of 73% for children is in line with the regional average of 72%.
  • Females are more likely to be registered with a dentist (70% compared to 64% of males); this difference is particularly striking in the 18-44 age group with 77% of females registered compared to just 62% of males.
  • Looking at individual 'Item of Service' treatments, almost 347,000 Examinations were performed on adults, an increase of 79% on 2020/21 which can be explained by the relaxation of restrictions put in place due to Covid-19. This still represents a drop of 61% when compared to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019/20.
  • Almost 76,000 children received dental treatment in excess of the basic treatments, an increase of 47% on last year, but this figure is still down by 37% when compared to the pre-pandemic activity levels.
  • Fillings increased by 90%, and extractions by 44%, compared to 2020/21, but still represent significant reductions of 47% and 21% respectively, compared to the most recent pre-pandemic year.
  • During 2020/21, the latest year for which comparative figures are available, NI dentists filled more teeth (almost 13,000) per 100,000 population than any of the other UK regions. Since 2013/14, NI has consistently had the highest number of fillings per head of population of the four regions. Government initiatives and differential uptake of private dentistry may help explain some of the observed inter-country differences.   
  • The Gross Cost of Dental Services was Pound 143.8 million, with Covid-19 payments making up Pound 43.7 million of this. Patient contributions (also included in the gross total) rose from Pound 7.1 million in 2020/21 to Pound 13.1 million in the latest year.
  • The average cost (GDS Fees) per head of child population was Pound 67 in 2021/22, up from Pound 55 in 2020/21, whilst for adults, the cost per head (including patient contributions) was almost Pound 27 in 2021/22, up from Pound 18 in the previous year. These costs, however, exclude payments made to practices in relation to the Financial Support Scheme and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as other adjustments which cannot be assigned to adults or children. 



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