One in five people forced into private dental care in the East


10:40 am May 10, 2022

One in five people in the region have sought private dental care after struggling to get appointments with the NHS, a new study has found.

A nationwide survey by Healthwatch has shown that shortages of NHS dental appointments are forcing more and more people to turn to private dentistry to meet their needs.

In the East alone, it showed one in five people did not have access to the treatment they needed, while the same ratio said they had to go private.

The study also showed that more than half of respondents felt NHS dental charges were unfair, while one in 10 said that when they got appointments with the NHS they were overcharged.

Of more than 2,000 participants nationwide, more than a third also said the inability to get to appointments exacerbated their problems and caused anxiety.

Alex Stewart, Managing Director of Healthwatch Norfolk
– Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: ‘We get more telephone comments about the difficulty of accessing dental care than anything else. People are finding it impossible to access the help they need at an affordable price, with some having no choice but to seek private care or simply go without treatment.

“In Norfolk, the shortage of dentists is particularly acute because practices keen to increase their NHS rosters cannot find the staff to make this happen.

“We are aware that some new NHS dental contracts have been awarded and, in the short term, we want more information about this to be made public urgently so that people can access the care they need.

“There is also an urgent need to review NHS dental contracts so this can be resolved before the new healthcare systems start nationwide next year. It is simply unacceptable that people cannot access NHS dental care anywhere in Norfolk. »

It comes after a separate study by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) found that Norfolk and Waveney were among the five biggest “dental deserts” in the country – with just one dentist for every 2,600 people living in the area.

Nikki Winder, from Costessey, a Toothless campaigner in England who has experienced long delays herself, described the situation as “appalling”.


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