Politics

NHS dental patients being asked to go private or wait two years for appointments


NHS dental patients are being asked to pay for private treatments or wait two years for appointments, a watchdog warns.

Healthwatch England was contacted by one patient who was offered a procedure for £1,700 which was £60 on the NHS.

Another was told that their odds of successful treatment would increase substantially if they were willing to pay for private care.

Chairman Sir Robert Francis QC said: “The pandemic has exacerbated the human impact of years of structural issues in NHS dentistry and is now pushing it to crisis point.”

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Chairman Sir Robert Francis QC

A briefing document from the watchdog said one patient was told they would need to wait for two years for an NHS appointment.

Another was told to use a nail file to treat a broken tooth.

Others were told to “buy dental repair kits and treat themselves”.

Healthwatch England was contacted by hundreds of people between October and December complaining about NHS dentistry issues in the health service.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting the dental sector throughout this pandemic so everyone can access affordable, high-quality dental care.

“Since last summer, all practices have been able to open to deliver the full range of care with 600 urgent care centres providing extra support.”

An NHS spokeswoman said: “It’s right that the NHS has set targets that help patients see their dentist, with many practices already going well beyond the target set.

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“Despite the pandemic, millions of people received dental treatment last year.”





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