Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has shown that just 57% of children looked after by the council had their teeth checked by a dentist in the last year – far below the English average of 70%, and well behind Liberal Democrat run Kingston at 93%.
There is a statutory requirement that children being looked after by the council have their teeth checked by a dentist once a year – but this has not happened for many vulnerable children in Southwark.
This comes as House of Commons data shows that two thirds of adults and children across the borough did not visit a dentist over the last two years, and the Liberal Democrats nationally have been calling for NHS dentistry contracts to be urgently reviewed by the government to reverse the decline in dental care.
NHS dental practices across London launched a pilot scheme to address covid-related impacts on looked after children – but where other boroughs have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, Southwark continues to lag behind.
The rate in Southwark, in line with the average across London, fell dramatically after covid – but where the average went from 86% to 39% back to 71%, Southwark’s rate remained well below average at just 57%, down from 82% pre-covid.
Deputy Group Leader Cllr Rachel Bentley said, “We are very concerned about these figures regarding the Council’s record of dental care amongst its looked after children. In order to deliver on its duty of care towards its looked after children, we urge the Council to work closely with the NHS following the Healthy Smiles pilot to rectify this matter promptly.”