Sunday Mirror


Patients can’t even get on waiting lists

- Scoops@sundaymirr­

MORE than 1,400 dentists have cut ties with the NHS, forcing patients to suffer in silence or fork out to go private.

Figures show Britain is on the brink of a “dental disaster” after surgeries were forced to close during the pandemic and have struggled to catch up with demand.

After Covid floored practices in 202021, 1,414 dentists quit and patients missed 28 million courses of treatment.

A survey suggests another one in four NHS dentists could soon go private.

Tory MP Peter Aldous recently told colleagues that the upshot of millions being unable to find a dentist was “thousands in agony – resorting to DIY tooth extraction, undiagnose­d mouth cancers and the poorest hit hardest”.

One of those suffering is Anne Goodacre, 75. She has been calling her local dentist in Saxmundham, Suffolk, every two weeks for two years but they aren’t taking on new patients. She said: “My front teeth are disintegra­ting. They’re cutting my gums and need to come out but I can’t afford to go private. I’ll need to eat pureed food soon.”

Frankie Durdler, 54, has been living with missing front teeth for 15 months because he can’t find an NHS dentist.

His wife Vickye Hopkins, 49, spent a full day calling dentists across Kent for herself – again with no luck. She needs her bottom teeth out, a new denture and treatment for a recurring abscess.

Vickye said: “Me and my daughter spent from 9.30am calling 73 dentists and none were taking new patients.

“Some put us on a year-long waiting list but others wouldn’t add us because their list was too long.”

Vickye said her daughter Beth, 22, has been removed as a patient at her dentist because it has gone private.

Mark Jones, founder of campaign group Toothless in England, said: “It is

a dental disaster. It’s awful. We’re set up for failure. Something has to change.”

In 2019-20, there were 26,726 NHS dentists but the latest figures show there are now 25,312.

London is the hardest hit area, with 368 services lost, closely followed by the South East, with 306.

The fall has been blamed on government cuts. Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Associatio­n’s General Dental Practice Committee,

said NHS dental care was “overstretc­hed and underfunde­d”. He added: “This is how NHS dentistry will die – a lingering decline that unchecked, will leave millions of patients with no options.

“This Government has ensured many dentists cannot see a future in this service. Without urgent reform and adequate funding, there is little hope we can halt this exodus.”

Dr Nigel Carter, director of the Oral Health Foundation, said it was a “perfect storm” of Covid, Brexit and lack of a government review.

He added: “I can’t see the situation getting any better. BDA polling says 23% of dentists will leave the NHS within the next 16 months.”

Dr Carter accused the Government of dragging its feet, and added “We need to train more dentists. Government inaction and failure to follow through and deliver is a strong part of the problem.”

 ?? NHS numbers are dwindling
Vickye Hopkins and Frankie Durdler ?? DOWN IN THE MOUTH
NHS numbers are dwindling Vickye Hopkins and Frankie Durdler DOWN IN THE MOUTH SUFFERING
 ?? ?? IN NEED Anne is desperate to be seen
IN NEED Anne is desperate to be seen

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