New patients turned away by thousands of dentists – it is getting worse

Kate Gibbons reports in the Times 17th September 2017: New patients turned away by thousands of dentists

‘… and as the Minister in charge I can assure the public there is no shortage of NHS dentists.’

Thousands of dental practices are refusing to take on new patients as one couple came forward to say they had resorted to pulling out their own teeth.

Of the 2,500 NHS practices that give details about how to register online, almost half were not accepting new adult patients. The British Dental Association (BDA) said that the figures reflected “an emerging crisis” driven by ministers’ “principal interest in keeping costs down”.

Analysis by the BBC also found that 40 per cent of new child patients were being turned away from practices, despite tooth decay being the leading cause of hospital admissions among children.

Rebecca Brearey and Nick Oldroyd, an unemployed couple from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, are among those who have not been able to gain access to dental care. They claim to have “ripped out” their own teeth to cope with the pain after being refused NHS treatment for four years.

“It got so bad that after taking a combination of paracetamol and alcohol I ripped my half-rotten teeth out,” Ms Brearey told the BBC. “I’ve literally begged to be taken on by an NHS dentist, but every time I’ve been turned away.”

“I’m on benefits and trying to get a job, and when someone sees my teeth they just think I’m another waster. I do believe if I could get some dental care I might be able to begin turning my life around.”

NHS England said that 95 per cent of people seeking a dental appointment were able to get one and 39 million treatments were carried out in England last year.

However, new figures from the NHS show that half of all adults and nearly 5 million children are not seeing a dentist regularly.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chairman of general dental practice at the BDA, said that the figures were a stark reminder that dentistry remained a “Cinderella service”. “Many dentists would love to do more NHS work, but the contract imposed on them penalises them when they don’t hit quotas and does not pay them when they do more.

“Despite years of promises we are no closer to a decisive break from a model that puts government targets ahead of patient need.”

Analysis of more than 7,000 dental practices in England that are listed on the NHS Choices website found that just over 2,500 had information about whether they were accepting new patients. Work to transfer ownership of NHS records to individual practices began in April, but some practices are still waiting for access to their profiles or learning how to update the system.

A general practitioner is trying to follow the dentists into private practice – clients will initially be the retired rich, but eventually many more of us.

Why were doctors treated differently to dentists? Perverse…

Dentists are overwhelmed. Patients and politicians are in denial. Rheumatic fever may follow… “The NHS dental service is broken”

Open Wide – The system for dental care is letting patients down. Regulatory gaps need filling and dentists seem to agree..

10% increase in vacancies. “Industrial scale” recruitment from overseas is a clear admission of recurrent cross party political failure.

Dentistry is important – for an important sub group…

Civil unrest will be inevitable… This is the future … “Super-surgeries with 50,000 patients” – take it or leave it..

‘Your insurance doesn’t cover acts of God, like age related illness and accidents.’


This entry was posted in Dentists, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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