None of York’s dental practices are taking on new NHS patients, a survey has discovered.
One health expert said today that this marked a ‘new low’ for dentistry in the city.
Healthwatch York published their report ‘NHS Dentistry – A Service in Decay?’ today (Friday). It reveals a further decline in patient access.
Healthwatch York manager Siân Balsom said: “NHS dentistry in the city has reached a new low and is in need of urgent and radical reform.
“If we fail to act soon we’ll be putting further pressure on an already severely stressed health system.”
Healthwatch York has received an increased number of complaints and queries about dentistry. These are examples of the comments they have received:
“I’ve been unable to find any dentist within 20 miles that are currently accepting new NHS patients (foregoing those that offer a 2 year+ waiting list). What would you recommend I do, as my dental health is in poor shape?”
“My daughter is 10 years old and we cannot find a dentist that takes new NHS
patients in York. I have searched everywhere and called about 20 different
Healthwatch York is now launching a survey where York people can share their experiences of accessing NHS dentistry in the city.
‘Gaping hole in health care’
Roger Newton, research officer at Healthwatch York, explained: “The most frequent reason people in York contact our information, advice and signposting service is to ask where they can find a dentist.
“We have long struggled to signpost them anywhere. Our research above gave us firm evidence as to the problem.
“We are now launching a survey to capture the voices of would-be NHS dental patients across the city, to show the impact of this gaping hole in local health and care provision.”
You can take part in the survey here.
Healthwatch York says four things need to happen:
- rapid and radical reform of the way dentistry is commissioned and provided
- changes to ensure that people are not excluded from NHS dental services because of lack of provision locally or difficulty in meeting charges
- improvements to the clarity of the information about NHS dentistry, so that people have a clear picture of where and how they can access services
- the use dental practices to support people’s general health, linking oral health with other key issues such as weight management.