A dentist from Buckinghamshire has said the NHS will struggle to survive without ‘fundamental change’ as health authorities warn of ‘failing’ government funding.

Health experts and NHS figures across the UK have been critical of budgeting plans laid out in Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement last week, with one senior voice accusing the chancellor of ‘failing to offer a penny to a health service on the brink’.

Amid increased pressure on the NHS as a whole in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dentist who splits their time between a private practice in High Wycombe and an NHS practice in London told the Free Press earlier this year that they did not believe the service would survive unless ‘fundamental changes’ were implemented.

The dentist, who asked to remain anonymous, said there remained a “huge backlog” of patients who couldn’t be seen during the lockdown period – with practitioners facing an unprecedented struggle to meet the high appointment targets contracted by the health service.

“They get paid the same amount whether they do one filling or ten fillings in an hour. It means sacrificing quality and creating a stressful environment for the staff.”

The pandemic-induced delays were a double-edged sword, they said, which exacerbated the pressure on the service and aggravated initially minor health problems in patients unable to receive treatment.

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“If you are in pain, you cannot sit around in pain – every minute you postpone addressing it, it will get worse. That’s why people are coming to their dentists now with 10 problems instead of just one.

“Unless it is fundamentally changed, I don’t know if the NHS is going to be able to cope.”

Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech on November 22, Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association said Mr Hunt had “failed to offer a penny to a service on the brink, just pulling care away from the patients who need us most”.

Think tank The Kings Fun said the statement offered no new support for the NHS on top of an additional £200 million emergency funding already announced for the service ahead of this winter.

Much of the cash is being used to cover the cost of strike action, which has impacted the service across England since December 2022 and which experts have estimated to cost in excess of £1 billion.

Health sources have said the Treasury will provide £100 million in new money to help cover the cost and £500 million will come from existing NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care budgets.