Barry Cockcroft comments on the latest NHS England figures for dentistry

Barry Cockcroft

Barry Cockcroft comments on the latest HSCIC figures

Barry Cockcroft, former chief dental officer and non-executive director at Mydentist, comments on the latest NHS England figures.

The report is a mixture of good news and worrying news.

It is not bad news at all.

As a nation the good news is that our dental health is improving; we have some of the lowest rates of dental decay and disease in the world.

But when we look to the future, there are still some serious challenges ahead.

The report states that thirty million patients, or 55% of the total UK population, saw a dentist in the 24 months ending 30 June 2015.

But the UK’s recent population growth means that as a percentage of the population, fewer people are visiting the dentist.

If the UK population continues to grow but the number of patients stays the same, then you could say our success has flatlined.

Fluoride varnish

The other good news is that the most common treatment among children is the application of a fluoride varnish.

Nearly three and a half million children had this treatment in the last year, that is an increase of 25%.

This is hugely significant, it means dentists are becoming pioneers of preventative treatment rather than spending their time dealing with the consequences of poor dental health.

Mydentist, which is one of the largest providers of NHS dental treatments in the UK, is proud to be doing its bit to improve the dental health and education of children with schemes like our Kid’s Club, which encourages parents and children to practice good oral hygiene from the appearance of a child’s first tooth.

Modern treatments

When I started out as a dentist I would estimate around 40% of the population did not have any of their own teeth.

Now more time is spent by dentist repairing treatments, such as old filings, than treating new disease.

In the latest adult dental health survey just under 70% of the current population do not have active tooth decay.

Another challenge is our ageing population, who on the whole have better dental health than previous older generations.

Of course this will put some pressure, in terms of patient numbers on NHS England.

There is still lots of work to do be done, but it needs to be taken outside the dental surgery.

We need to keep spreading the message by getting out into the community, into schools, and educating both adults and youngsters alike.

We need to get the message through that brushing teeth correctly, regular dental checks and reducing the amount and frequency of sugar consumption can make all the difference to our children’s dental health.

Then we can pride ourselves on having a population with the best dental health of any nation on earth.


  1. 1

    Barry really is the gift that keeps on giving
    The man that asked dentists to offer prevention for free and face clawback from non activity in UDAs as prevention gets 0 UDAs
    Access is dropping and the dental budget reducing and presumably none of this is his responsibility?
    Nice work if you can get it and a fine advert for his new employers thrown in

    • 2

      Eddie Crouch has summed this up perfectly. Barry Cockcroft you have left the system in tatters. Well done. Good luck with mydentist aka IDH aka Worst corporate entity in dentistry today, driven by profit and abusing dentists nationwide. Bravo.

  2. 3

    I presently work in oral health improvement and we are slowly but surely becoming an extinct function. Local Authorities now have access to the public health money that had been ring fenced from cuts. This means that the squeeze is getting tighter and oral health improvement teams are being decommissioned due to local government deciding they can cover this area using other staff teams. Therefore, my question is ‘who is going to be out there in the schools and communities when we’ve gone?’ This needs to be address as there will be no one championing oral health outside of the surgery. I’m quite sure due to 20 years experience that whatever the local authorities say they can deliver they cannot, not without expertise from the dedicated teams of people who have been the interface between dental services and oral health improvement for decades.

  3. 4

    This man really does have some brass neck! A homily from Barry Cockcroft – on prevention? One of the architects of the farcical 2006 contract, now singing the praises of a UDA factory-chain almost universally despised.
    Does this publication have no sense of irony…… ?!

  4. 5

    Mr Cockcroft facilated the privatisation of dentistry with a flawed UDA system. Access has fallen with practices unable to expand. Practices cannot recruit dentists and cannot accept new pts and forced to ration treatment. The corporatisation has created a few wealthy companies that control a lot of NHS dental provision. These companies take the funding and allow the associates to take the blame. Regrettably I would never recommend anyone training to be a dentist.

  5. 6

    I wouldn’t want his legacy at the end of my career. Utter hypocrasy . So ” my dentist” lol get a man with contacts in for dealing with those lovely govt contracts. Snouts in the trough boys

  6. 7

    How fanciful. The health of the Nation’s teeth has improved!! Sorry Barry, but at recent talks you only present statistics to back up this nonsense up to 2003; before the abomination of the UDA and the damage it has done. Similarly, it is well documented that such assessments are NOW purely visual…no probing or radiographs, thus rendering comparison an insult/nonsense/farcical/irrelevant…. Take your pick which of those best applies here. Nice advert for IDH or whatever they call themselves though. 10/10 for that one.

  7. 8

    “If the UK population continues to grow but the number of patients stays the same, then you could say our success has flatlined.”

    …or you could more accurately say that the success never existed and Dr Cockcroft is being dishonest with the figures, by switching to an ‘absolute’ measure when he realised the percentage of patients showed that his term as CDO was completely ineffective; and that hundreds of millions of pounds of tax-payers’ money were wasted, leaving NHS dental patients worse off than in 2006.

  8. 9

    “We have some of the lowest decay rates and dental diseases in the world”
    Seriously ? Compared with which part of the world? Are you referring to any of the comparable (with the UK) Western European countries?
    Although it is nice to see that IDH knows how to look after one of their own after a “few years of loyal service”.

  9. 10

    Since when can continuing to treat the same number of patients in a growing population be described as flatlining? The proportion of patients seen is clearly declining, along with the standard of care (GDC complaints rising year on year ).
    Huge numbers of General Anaesthetics for children needing teeth extracted is a scandal and a disgrace but all we can claim is that application of Duraphat has increased?

  10. 11

    I hope Dr Cockcroft has read these comments and has actually reflected upon what a lot of experienced GDP’s really think of his ‘legacy’. However, I suspect that our man with the ‘brass neck’ just doesn’t ‘do’ reflection. Which I find a bit of a pity. Far too much time spent in committees listening to Snivel Serpents, not enough time listening to the GDP’s in the front line. As a previously NHS GDP, but private since 2006 (remember that year, Dr Cockcroft?) our practice has now all but forgotten the NHS GDS. The truth is that the only thing I miss about the NHS is the pension.

  11. 12

    I agree with Expat. Mr Cockcroft had looked after number on by joining his pals at IDH. IDH intend to float their company on the London Stock Exchange which will result in share windfall for the IDH board members including Mr Cockcroft. NHS plc. Good job. Mr Cockcroft look after number one.

  12. 13

    A good politician listens. Mr. Cockcroft. Have you listened to anything? Any other country you’d be locked up in a mental asylum.

  13. 14

    I’ve just read a few of the comments! So what else is new, we all work far too hard for too little remuneration. And of course we are still getting bad press, if you only get 2 UDAs for either an extraction, or the same for RCT & fill !! It’s a no brainer, but of course it’s the GDP whose at fault not the system. What a joke!! I’m almost glad I had my stroke & had to retire early. I would always do my best to save teeth, usually at a loss , but I couldn’t bring myself not to do the best treatment I could . I just wish that the government would admit it’s the system that’s wrong not the GDP.!!

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