In case you missed it: Someret is reporting that there are NO NHS dental places - at all

By Susie Watkins

14th May 2022 | Local News

Tempers like toothbrushes are fraying with Somerset reportedly having NO NHS dentists accepting new patients
Tempers like toothbrushes are fraying with Somerset reportedly having NO NHS dentists accepting new patients

No NHS appointments for new patients in Somerset

According to Healthwatch Somerset Manager, Gill Keniston-Goble, the situation for dental care in the county is particularly acute.

She said: Dentistry continues to be one of the main issues raised with us by the public. In the past year, 22% of our feedback has been about people not being able to find an NHS dentist. People are telling us they have called many dentists but cannot find one taking new patients. We are also hearing from the public that NHS England is advising there are no dentists taking new NHS patients in Somerset."

Ms Keniston-Goble added : "One memorable piece of feedback we received was about dental care in care homes. Residents who were registered with NHS dentists pre-Covid, have now been removed from their original dental practices lists because they were unable to visit as they were bed bound or immobile."

Lack of NHS dental appointments widens health inequalities

According to the latest survey ( May 9) by Heathwatch, half of the adults in England find dental charges unfair amid escalating living costs.

When people find it hard to access NHS dental care, they feel pressured to go private, which is not an option for many. And even NHS charges can be hard for some to afford. 

A representative poll of 2,026 adults based in England found nearly half (49%) of respondents felt NHS dental charges were unfair. 

Louise Ansari, national director at Healthwatch England said:

"Access to NHS dentistry has been one of the most significant issues people have raised with us in the last two years. There is now a deepening crisis in dental care, leaving people struggling to get treatment or regular check-ups on the NHS. 
"The shortage of NHS appointments is creating a two-tier dental system, which widens inequalities and damages the health of the most disadvantaged communities. 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."

Other results:

  • 41% of respondents said they found it difficult to book an NHS dental appointment, whilst one in five (20%) couldn't access all the treatments they needed.
  • One in four (24%) respondents said they had to pay privately to get all the required treatment.

One in six (17%) reported they felt pressured to pay privately when they booked their dental appointment. Similar numbers (17%) said their NHS dentist didn't explain the costs before starting treatment.

  • More than one in ten (12%) reported that their NHS dentist charged more for the treatments than the advertised NHS charges.
  • Almost a third (29%) of respondents said a lack of access to dental care led to more serious problems, making them feel anxious. Others said that a lack of timely dental care made it hard to eat or speak properly (16%) and made them avoid going out (14%).

The new data also reveals a significant North-South divide regarding how affordable people find dental care. While one in five people (20%) living in the South of England said they could afford private dental care if they can't find an NHS dentist, just seven per cent of those living in the North of England said they could afford private treatment.

Overall, 38% of the respondents feel they are less likely to visit a dentist, despite clinical guidelines recommending regular dental check-ups to keep people's mouths healthy.

Fewer NHS dentists

The findings come as more than 2,000 dentists quit the NHS last year, according to recent data obtained by the Association of Dental Groups, suggesting a growing trend toward private provision.


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