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Suffolk residents share hardship finding NHS dental appointments



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Suffolk residents have shared their hardship finding an NHS dentist as a poll reveals over 40 per cent of people in England cannot book on to appointments.

The representative poll from Healthwatch of 2,026 adults based in England also found nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents felt NHS dental charges were unfair.

One in five could not access the treatments they needed either and one in four said they had to pay privately to get the required treatment.

Suffolk residents have shared their hardship finding an NHS dentist as a poll reveals over 40 per cent of people in England cannot book on to appointments. Pictures: Pixabay.
Suffolk residents have shared their hardship finding an NHS dentist as a poll reveals over 40 per cent of people in England cannot book on to appointments. Pictures: Pixabay.

Louise Ansari, national director at Healthwatch England, said access to NHS dentistry was 'one of the most significant issues' people had raised with them in the past two years.

"There is now a deepening crisis in dental care, leaving people struggling to get treatment or regular check-ups on the NHS," she said.

"The shortage of NHS appointments is creating a two-tier dental system, which widens inequalities and damages the health of the most disadvantaged communities.

Louise Ansari, national director at Healthwatch England, said access to NHS dentistry was 'one of the most significant issues' people had raised with them in the past two years.
Louise Ansari, national director at Healthwatch England, said access to NHS dentistry was 'one of the most significant issues' people had raised with them in the past two years.

"With millions of households bearing the brunt of the escalating living costs, private treatment is simply not an option, and even NHS charges can be a challenge.

"This needs urgent attention if the Government is to achieve its levelling up plan and tackle health disparities."

It comes as Robert Truscott, of Weeting, said he had been struggling to access NHS dental care since 2019.

"Since 2019, I've phoned every dentist within a 50-mile radius of my home in Weeting and have yet to find anyone who is taking on new patients," he said.

He added: "I’m now getting to the point where I wont be able to afford to see the dentist and will have to resort to sorting them out myself if I get any tooth pain."

Charlotte Cooper, of Thurston, said she had been on a waiting list since November 2020.

She called her dentist recently who said there could be another three year wait.

"I currently have a medical exempt certificate as I have a three month old, I haven’t been able to get into a dentist even for a check up," she said.

"I'm now concerned as I will need to get my daughter in once she starts to get teeth I can’t have her not go to a dentist.

"I also cannot afford (a) private dentist due to being on maternity.

"I do not earn enough to do this."

More than 2,000 dentists quit the NHS last year, according to data obtained by the Association of Dental Groups.

Healthwatch England have 'repeatedly raised concerns' over the last two years as the twin crisis of access and affordability continue to grow.

Between October 2021 and March 2022, the Healthwatch network heard from 4,808 people on their experiences of dental care, many of whom were struggling to access timely care.