88-mile trek to the den­tist

Sunday Express - - SYMPATHY FOR MEGHAN - By Lucy John­ston

PA­TIENTS are fac­ing round trips of al­most 90 miles to see an NHS den­tist, a study has found.

The Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion is call­ing on Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock to tackle the cri­sis in treat­ment.

Its anal­y­sis shows 7,000 pa­tients are be­ing forced to travel up to 88 miles and spend­ing five hours on pub­lic trans­port in parts of North Nor­folk, fol­low­ing the clo­sure of two prac­tices. Hun­dreds of pa­tients take more than two hours trav­el­ling in Bar­row-in-Fur­ness, Cum­bria.

Mil­lions of Bri­tons also have no lo­cal den­tist who can take on new NHS pa­tients. The study of 2,500 den­tal prac­tices shows half are not ac­cept­ing new adult NHS pa­tients, while two-fifths are not tak­ing new child pa­tients.

Sep­a­rate re­search shows ev­ery den­tist in 24 lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Eng­land is only tak­ing pri­vate pa­tients. The re­sults emerge as NHS fig­ures show 75 schoolchil­dren had all their teeth re­moved due to de­cay last year, up 40 per cent on the 54 in 2012-13.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion re­leased fig­ures last week show­ing that in 2015-16, there were more than 40,000 hos­pi­tal op­er­a­tions to re­move teeth in chil­dren.

Pae­di­a­tri­cian Dr Max Davie said: “The lead­ing cause of tooth de­cay is poor diet. Cases are likely to in­crease un­less some­thing is done ur­gently.”

The BDA warned the prob­lem is also be­ing fu­elled by the fact that over­stretched den­tal surg­eries are un­able to take on new pa­tients due to lack of funds. A spokesman said: “Lack of ac­cess, tra­di­tion­ally cen­tred on ur­ban ar­eas has now be­come an every­day re­al­ity across Eng­land.” The Health Sec­re­tary re­cently pledged to put pre­ven­tion at the heart of NHS strat­egy but failed to make any com­mit­ment to den­tistry.”

Hen­rik Over­gaard-Nielsen, of the BDA, said: “It’s no ac­ci­dent that peo­ple are wait­ing longer or trav­el­ling fur­ther for an ap­point­ment. It’s what you get with a bud­get that cov­ers barely half the pop­u­la­tion.”

Den­tal cam­paigner Dr Tony Kil­coyne added: “The sys­tem is bro­ken. The tragic cases of chil­dren need­ing whole mouth clear­ances of teeth is partly about sug­ary di­ets and poor pre­ven­tion. It is also a con­se­quence of a sheer lack of ser­vice from birth. We are fail­ing a whole gen­er­a­tion.”

The NHS said it is work­ing to im­prove den­tal health. A spokesman said: “NHS den­tal care for chil­dren is free and tooth de­cay is pre­ventable.”

The De­part­ment of Health did not re­spond to re­quests for a com­ment. 2015 Miss Eng­land Sportswoman con­test be­cause she was too self-con­scious about her smile.

She said: “I’ve been through hell. My teeth were so crooked they caused me to have bad breath and they were so sen­si­tive I could not eat prop­erly. I loved com­pet­ing in beauty pageants but with my smile ru­ined I could not do it any more.”

The or­deal cost April £6,000 and her den­tist John Jor­dan, who worked at Oa­sis Den­tal Care in Lytham St Annes, Lan­cashire, is no longer in prac­tice. He paid a £30,000 out-of-court set­tle­ment af­ter The Den­tal Law Part­ner­ship filed a com­plaint.

April has since had cor­rec­tive den­tal work but says she’s now too old to com­pete in beauty pageants.

She added: “It makes me so an­gry. Worse still I never even needed the ve­neers at all.”

BOTCH JOB: April was left with loose wonky teeth

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