88-mile trek to the dentist
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