Daily Mirror


» Number of appointmen­ts for patients has fallen by a THIRD » Woman used pliers to remove tooth...some put glue in cavities


THE shortage of NHS dentists is causing horrific suffering, with patients pulling their own teeth.

NHS appointmen­ts in England are down from 3.5 million a month pre-pandemic to just 2.3 million.

British Dental Associatio­n boss Eddie Crouch blamed “a decade of underfundi­ng” by the Tories.

DESPERATE patients are resorting to horrific DIY dentistry as they find it impossible to get NHS treatment.

Jamie Ellison, 49, who has been unable to sign up with an NHS dentist for 15 years, used pliers to take out his own tooth. He said: “I would not recommend it. It was a desperate thing to do.” Mr Ellison, from Huddersfie­ld, West Yorks, said: “I have not seen a dentist for about 15 years. God knows, I have tried.” Nicola, a part-time nurse in Sussex, told of being unable to find an NHS dentist to repair a broken tooth. She told the i newspaper: “I had to resort to buying a pair of long-nose pliers to try and extract the tooth.” She made it worse and ended up going to a private dentist, which cost £650, which she is still paying off. Hannah Whelan, from Manchester, who works in the NHS, told of being unable to afford a root canal extraction. She said: “I used to super glue the infected molars and take paracetamo­l. I managed to finally get an extraction done after fainting at work from the pain.”

There has been an exodus of around 3,000 dentists since the last Covid lockdown, many saying a perverse payment structure leaves them carrying out some NHS treatments at a loss, getting the same payment for doing one filling as they do for a patient requiring three or four.

Data released under Freedom of Informatio­n laws, shows 2.3 million NHS dental appointmen­ts in England in April, down from

2.9 million in March, and down from a pre-pandemic average of 3.5 million.

Lack of access to NHS dentists was a major issue in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, where the Lib Dems trounced the Tories.

In the Mid Devon local authority, which covers Tiverton, there were 2,500 NHS dental appointmen­ts in April, down from 4,600 pre-pandemic. In Wakefield, where Labour regained the

seat from the Tories, monthly appointmen­ts have fallen from 25,000 to 16,000.

April was the start of the new financial year, when dentists decide how many NHS appointmen­ts they can commit to. The data signifies that more are withdrawin­g from the NHS.

Eddie Crouch, British Dental Associatio­n boss, said: “Every vacancy that goes unfilled translates into thousands of patients unable to access care.

“Ministers have failed to grasp that we can’t have NHS dentistry without NHS dentists.”

The BDA says direct annual Government funding for dentistry is now down £880million from 2010 levels, while the Tories have repeatedly increased patient fees above inflation. Neil Carmichael, of the Associatio­n of

Dental Groups, told the i: “It is terrible that people are feeling forced to do DIY dentistry and pulling out their teeth with pliers. It is not how we should be doing things in modern Britain.”

Mr Crouch said: “The barriers facing millions in pain are made in Westminste­r. Until government turns the page on a decade of underfundi­ng and failed contracts we will not see progress.

“The Tiverton by-election underlines the real political cost of failure to fix the crisis in NHS dentistry.

“It’s easy to understand why the inability to access basic healthcare services is resonating on the doorstep.”

BDA polling shows 45% of dentists have reduced their NHS patient commitment since the pandemic by an average of more than a quarter.

The survey of 2,200 dentists last month showed 75% were likely to reduce, or further reduce, their NHS works in the next 12 months.

Some 45% say they are likely to go fully private.

A Government spokeswoma­n said: “We are working closely with the NHS to reform the dental system – including negotiatin­g improvemen­ts to the contract.”

I wouldn’t advise it. It was a desperate thing to do


 ?? ?? GRIM Patients are using pliers to take out teeth
GRIM Patients are using pliers to take out teeth
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 ?? ?? CAMPAIGN Josh Keeling and Olivia Morley
CAMPAIGN Josh Keeling and Olivia Morley

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