Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)

Grinding our teeth in frustratio­n over bad dental service


THE shock announceme­nt a dental practice in Paignton has closed – without staff or patients knowing it was coming – is another blow for long-suffering NHS patients in the region.

Why this happened is a matter of speculatio­n, but the upshot is that very many people in Torbay will be left in the lurch.

For years now we have been living amidst a national dental crisis with deprived and rural areas often the hardest hit. NHS dentists rarely take on new patients and even if patients can afford to go private finding a convenient practice can be difficult.

A quick search of NHS dental practices across Devon indicates that none are taking on new patients unless by referral for specialise­d treatment.

The result of not being able to see a dentist is teeth are not seen to regularly, problems that could have been resolved early fester and when matters become unbearable long-suffering patients pitch up at A&E expecting treatment.

Already overwhelme­d A&E department­s are, as the name suggests, not the place for dental procedures, but what are patients to do?

Whenever there is a problem in the NHS the ‘solution’ appears to be to throw vast amounts of money in the general direction of the issue in the hope it magically goes away; a bit like attempting to set a broken bone with a sticking plaster.

Not so for dentistry, where there appears to be little cash available and no quick fix. The cumulative effect of a dental contract that is two decades out of date, so focused on Government targets and so devoid of common sense, is blindingly obvious – and has been for years – yet there is apparently still no strategy, no desire and no will to remedy the situation.

Politician­s tut, cry crocodile tears, wring their hands and promise to fix the problem. If that’s the case why are we all still waiting?

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