Peterborough councillors voice growing concerns over the shortage of NHS dentists accepting new patients.
NHS England can only name two practices currently accepting new patients in the Peterborough area.
Patients are being forced to commute across the city, look outside Peterborough or turn to private treatment.
‘We were concerned to hear about the lack of NHS dental practices in Peterborough taking on new patients,’ Councillor Kim Aitken, chair of Peterborough City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, told Peterborough Today.
‘We’re told dental practices can open and close their patient lists at any time without having to notify NHS England.
‘As a consequence of no appointments, the Peterborough Access Centre has been overloaded and at times has had no alternative but to turn people away.
‘Representatives of NHS England and NHS Improvement came to our committee and put forward a number of recommendations.
‘As a committee we will continue to review the outcomes of those recommendations.’
Healthwatch criticised the provision of dentistry in Peterborough earlier this year.
Its figures show 6,635 patients were turned away for dental treatment between April 2017 and March 2018.
‘We are actively exploring the future options for dental services in the Peterborough area,’ Rachel Webb, director of primary care and public health at NHS England, said to Peterborough Today.
‘Both in the short and the longer term, and we are currently in discussions with a number of dental providers.
‘Dental practices constantly review their patient lists, so it is worth regularly checking back with practices in the area.
Dental crisis looming
The BDA recently highlighted a dental crisis in Wales as only one in six NHS practices is accepting new patients.
The research shows 55 out of 355, or 15.5%, practices in Wales are able to offer appointments.
Figures have dropped markedly since 2012 when 37% of new adult patients were able to find an NHS appointment.
‘For too many families in Wales, NHS dentistry is now just a nice idea rather than a reality they can depend on,’ chair of the BDA’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, Tom Bysouth, said.
‘We’ve found practices giving up on even going through the motions with waiting lists.
‘NHS patients are left with few options but to travel or miss out on the care they need.
‘Across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire NHS dentistry amounts to a single practice that can only take on new child patients.
‘It’s hardly comprehensive care from cradle to grave.
‘At the heart of this problem is a broken NHS contract that is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis.
‘There is a growing consensus in the Assembly recognising the need for real change.
‘These findings need to spur the Welsh government and health boards on to deliver a system that works for patients.’