Hampshire councilor waited nearly a year for NHS dentist appointment

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Cllr Andy Tree, independent member of Hampshire County Council for Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford, phoned for an appointment in the autumn of last year.

To this day, he is still waiting for his appointment – but after phoning the same practice and inquiring about private appointments, he was told he could be seen within a week.

Cllr Tree fears this bias of seeing private patients instead of NHS ones will leave hundreds of people in Hampshire without dental care.

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Independent Member for Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford, Cllr Andy Tree. Photo: Hampshire County Council

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He said: ‘I’ve been on a waiting list for an appointment since the fall – but last phoned I was told I could get one in a few days if I became private.

“If people can’t see their dentists on the NHS and can’t afford to go private – as many in East Hampshire will be – their dental health will deteriorate until it becomes a medical emergency.

“I wonder what motivation or encouragement dentists actually receive to see their NHS patients.”

According to NHS England, dentists in Hampshire are currently working at 95% capacity, having reduced their hours during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has created a backlog, health bosses say, but there is no indication when that waiting list will be cleared.

Alison Cross from NHS England said: “Without additional funding the level playing field will not be.

“There are a number of practices in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that are underperforming, and we are aware of that.”

A recent report by the Association of Dental Groups showed that Portsmouth CCG has the seventh lowest number of NHS dentists per 100,000 in the country, at 42.

It also found Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG 15th lowest, with 45 NHS dentists per 100,000.

Portsmouth South Labor MP Stephen Morgan said the £6.8million funding given to dentistry in the South East earlier this year was “wholly insufficient”.

‘It is clear to me, after speaking to local dental officials and practitioners, that the government funding allocated in January is woefully inadequate, rapidly turning Portsmouth into a dental wasteland,’ he said.

‘Tory ministers must stop sitting back, stepping up to the challenges and urgently stepping in to deliver the NHS dentistry we deserve.’

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