Disparities in the geographic distribution of NHS general dental care services in England

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Abstract

Objectives To assess the geographic distribution of NHS dental practices in England in relation to deprivation and rurality. Methods A total of 7,851 dental practices in England were included in this study against a population of 53,004,517 from 171,349 statistical areas. The practices were mapped using geographic information systems technology and integrated with census population data, the Index of Multiple Deprivation and the rural-urban classification. Results Results showed that 92.1% of children and adolescents, 91.8% of working-age adults and 88.8% of older adults lived within 2.5 km of a practice. In general, dental practices were not socioeconomically distributed; 99.7% of people from the most deprived areas lived close to a practice compared to 92.9% of people from the least deprived areas. However, when age groups were delineated, much higher proportions of deprived children and adolescents lived within 2.5 km distance from a dental service, while the opposite was true for the older age group (high proportions of the least deprived older adults lived within 2.5 km distance from a dental service). In rural areas, 54.8%, 54.3% and 53.5% of children and adolescents, working-age adults and older adults lived outside 2.5 km of a dental practice, respectively. Conclusions Disparities exist in the distribution of NHS dental practices in England. The need to increase spatial availability of dental practices in England is evident.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Dental Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 May 2021

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