Response to recent Guardian article claiming homeless people cause NHS missed targets

In a recent article published in the Guardian, the head of the British Dental Association referred to people experiencing homelessness as “no hopers” in the context of current dental commissioning. We – a coalition of members of the dental profession, dental charities and homelessness outreach organisations – strongly reject the message that this article is sending to vulnerable individuals and the wider public.

The chaotic and dangerous nature of homelessness can make it difficult for individuals to be at a certain place at a certain time. This is not a failing to be condemned, but a challenge to be met: it is our professional responsibility to make services more easily accessible to the growing number of vulnerable people in our society.

Commissioning models need to be sufficiently flexible to embrace innovative approaches to providing high quality care to those most at need. Positive examples include Community Dental Services who provide dental care for homeless people at multiple locations across the country. Based in Plymouth, Peninsula Dental School offers free dental care at four locations, and supports dental students to provide outreach advice at local homeless shelters. Den-Tech provides same-day denture services for people experiencing homelessness. In Manchester, Revive Dental Care offers drop-in dental clinics for vulnerable people. Dentaid holds free monthly clinics in Southampton and their ‘mobile dental unit’ visits night shelters and soup kitchens around the country.

In November, these and many others will meet in Birmingham for the ‘Homeless and Inclusion Oral Health’ conference, organised by homeless health charity Pathway. The commitment of these groups is beyond doubt, but their tireless efforts should not give space to government to ignore its responsibility to commission adequate healthcare services.

Instead, we should marry lessons learned in these contexts to resources available within the NHS, and push for greater inclusion at all levels: policy, commissioning, education, training, service design, and inter-professional collaboration.

Until then, we will continue to share experience and resources, establish new partnerships, and innovate in delivering services to members of our society whose requirements are not easily met by existing structures. We believe strongly that there is hope.

If you would be willing to consider supporting this letter, please email your affirmative response or the response of your organisation asap as will be submitting this letter to the Guardian by Tuesday 1pm. Email: 

We will keep adding names and groups here even after that deadline.

PLEASE HELP US GET NAMES & SUPPORT, your cllr, your MP, your dentist, your union, your group,  YOU!

Thank you


Janine Doughty University College London / Pathway Homeless Healthcare Charity / Crisis at Christmas Dental Service Deputy Service Organiser
Jon Glackin Streets Kitchen
Matt Downie Director of Policy and Social Affairs, Crisis
Prof Andrew Hayward University College London / Pathway Homeless Healthcare Charity
Professor Ruth Freeman University of Dundee
Vanessa Muirhead Senior Clinical Lecturer, Queen Mary University London
Martin Burrows Groundswell
Al Story UCLH Find and Treat Service Lead
Natalie Bradley Community Dental Officer, Clinical Lead for Homeless Provision
Ben Atkins Revive Dental Care
Janine Brooks Director of the dental coaching academy
Stan Burridge Pathway lead for experts by experience
Andreas Johnson Chair of Den-Tech Denture charity
Jessica Turtle Chair of Trustees, Simon Community
Nicholas Ransford Clinical Director of Birmingham Community Dental Service
Sara Harford Clinical Fellow
Maryam Ahmadyar Community Dental Officer
Mili Doshi Consultant in Special Care Dentistry
Laura Daly DCT2 in dental public health
Frances O’Leary DCT3 Paediatric dentistry
Jill Harding Dentaid
Esther Stephenson Dental Core Trainee in Oral and Maxillofacial surgery
Nadia Khalique Dental Hygienist / therapist
Pippasha Khan Dental student, Kings College London
Deborah Manger Deputy Medical Director & Specialist in Special Care Dentistry for NHFT
Jackie Bird Director of Joanna Project
Dorothea Hackman Euston Foodbank
David Croser General Dental Practitioner
Zana Khan GP in homeless and inclusion health
Bhavik Patel Integrated Clinical Fellow, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Cllr Diarmiad Ward Islington Executive Member for Housing & Development
Daniel Stone Labour Councillor for Stroud Green, Haringey
Nikki Kenyon Manchester: Life On The Streets
Professor Christophe Bedos McGill University, Montreal
Matthew Turtle Museum of Homelessness
Serena Luchenski NIHR/HEE Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Public Health Consultant
Louise McTernan Outreach worker Manchester
Cat Whitehouse Pathway homeless healthcare charity
Fiona Ellwood Patron of Society for British Dental Nurses
Martha Paisi Peninsula Dental School
Rob Whitton Peninsula Dental School
Mehdi Yazdi Principal dentist Crown Bank Dental practice
Professor Blanaid Daly Professor in Special Care Dentistry, Trinity College Dublin
David Conway Professor of Dental Public Health, University of Glasgow
Jo Dick Registrar in Special Care Dentistry
Renato Venturelli Garay Research Assistant UCL
Garima Arora Research Assistant, University of Dundee
Laura Gartshore Senior lecturer and honorary consultant in paediatric dentistry
Art Hindocha Senior registrar in orthodontics
Andrea Rodriguez Senior Research Fellow – Homelessness (Advocacy and Policy) Smile4life Programme|
Melissa Scott Service lead, homeless health service, Bournemouth.
Rachel Cullen Simon Community
James Bartlett Solidarity London
Caoimhin MacGiolla Phadraig Special Care Dentist, Dublin Dental University Hospital
Nahush Shah Specialist in Orthodontics / Crisis at Christmas Dental Service Lead
Norma Smart Specialist in Special Care Dentistry
Neil Martin Specialist in Special Care Dentistry/DCT East Anglia Training Programme Advisor
Spires Spires
Brooke Zaidman SpR in Special Care Denistry
Paul Jackman Still Human Outreach
Councillor Ruth Rosenau Stoke
Holly Bretel StR in Special Care Dentistry
Samina Nayani StR Special Care Dentistry, Kings College Hospital
Jade Statt Street Vet co-founder
Sam Joseph Street Vet co-founder
Alexander Holden University of Sydney
Gabriel Galia Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellow
Barbara Moeller
Jenny Lawson and others Nag’s Head Solidarity Centre Women’s Group
Rochelle Wallace-Whitfield
Theo Rogers
Trish Young
Jack Monroe Author
Derek Richards President British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry