Close this search box.

Addressing Oral Health Inequalities in Harrow

I attended a meeting in April, 2024, focussing on tackling oral health inequalities in Harrow.

This meeting enabled me to meet with different local stakeholders hosted by Harrow Council, engaging positively and collaboratively in efforts helping to inform and shape policies and initiatives at the local level aimed at improving dental care access to high needs patients.

One of the key issues discussed was the high prevalence of dental caries among young children in Harrow, particularly those with complex and special educational needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was evident that access to dental care in the primary sector posed a significant barrier for many of these children, exacerbating existing health inequalities.

As a dentist deeply committed to serving my community, it was heartening to have a platform where I could advocate for these children and contribute to meaningful solutions whilst also giving insights to the challenges that Primary Care dentists face under the NHS contract.

A notable initiative discussed during the meeting was a pilot scheme aimed at improving access to dental care for looked after children. This scheme had allowed carers to contact 111 to be referred onto select dental practices, providing a lifeline for those in need. While the pilot was successful in connecting some children with much-needed care, it was disheartening to learn that it had now been discontinued. However, discussions surrounding its reinstatement underscored the importance of ongoing advocacy efforts to ensure all children receive the dental care they deserve which the LDC will continue with. Moreover, the meeting emphasised the importance of adequately compensating dentists for the time and resources required to address these high needs children effectively.

It was encouraging to see a consensus among stakeholders regarding the need for better dental access to these patients, shorter waiting times and increased capacity for community referrals, signalling a commitment to improving the overall quality of care provided to vulnerable populations.

As a dentist actively involved in the LDC, attending this meeting reaffirmed my belief in the power of collaboration and advocacy in addressing oral health inequalities. By being a voice for those who often go unheard and working alongside various stakeholders, including policymakers and community organisations, I feel a sense of belonging to the wider NHS community. Together, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of vulnerable children in Harrow and beyond.