A shortage of NHS dentists has left patients waiting up to two years to receive routine checkups. And record numbers of dentists are leaving the NHS to pursue private practice. Here’s Kunal discussing the issue with BBC London’s Ayisha Buksh.
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Next, how a shortage of NHS dentists means. Some people are waiting for up to two years for routine check ups. Department for Health data analysed by the BBC reveals numbers in London fell by 10% in London last year, slightly higher than the rest of the country. The British Dental Association says there needs to be urgent reform to allow dentists to take on more NHS patients. Aisha Baksh has the story.
It’s perhaps not something everyone looks forward to, but getting a check-up or treatment with an NHS dentist these days isn’t easy. This practice in Chessington, in Surrey hasn’t taken on any new NHS patients for nearly two years, but they say local demand is higher than ever.
Kunal: I’ve got two practices. They both have NHS contracts and there’s only a certain amount of capacity that that contract can fulfil of a patient need. And we were at full capacity for many years and you know, we’ve always asked the NHS look we’re happy to do more NHS. Allow us to do give us a bigger quota or contract. And it never happened despite my reception staff taking these calls and you know, it was really demoralising for them to have to turn people away day in and day out. 50% of our calls is people wanting new NHS patients and they’re turning away.
It’s always been difficult to find a dentist that’s able to take on new NHS patients legally. They don’t have to. But since the pandemic began, there are now fewer dentists in the profession as a whole and the waiting lists have increased.
Aisha: Back in Chessington, Kunal says his NHS patient quota has now been increased and he’s able to open his books again to new people, although the backlog, he says, is still immense. So far, South NHS England told the BBC they’ve taken unprecedented action to support NHS dentists and the care of people who need it the most should be prioritised. Aisha Baksh, BBC, London.