Increasing numbers calling 999 for dental problems

999The number of people in Bradford calling 999 and 111 for dental problems has been increasing over the last three years.

That’s according to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which found that 126 people called 999 in 2015 for dental issues, rising to 159 in 2016 and 160 in 2017.

There are increasing numbers calling 111 for dental issues too:

  • 28,316 calling in 2015
  • 28,319 calling in 2016
  • 28,989 people called in 2017.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has pointed to the lack of access to a dental professional, with a recent survey from Healthwatch Bradford and District showing 74% of people in Bradford couldn’t find a local dentist accepting NHS patients.

‘When families in Bradford need a dentist and log on to NHS Choices or call the NHS 111 service they have literally nowhere to go,’ Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, said.

‘These patients end up being passed from pillar to post, simply because health commissioners have failed to provide enough dentistry to go round.

‘NHS websites and hotlines are all well and good, but access can only be guaranteed through real investment in NHS services in West Yorkshire.’

DIY dentistry

Judith Cummins, Bradford South MP, has gone on record describing children’s oral health in Bradford as ‘appalling’.

According to the Telegraph and Argus, 20% of people who had called the emergency services for dental issues ended up resorting to ‘DIY dentistry’.

‘Of course, sometimes dental emergencies happen due to accidents, but it’s clear that people are relying on a wide variety of NHS services – from ambulances to the 111 line – to help them because they are desperate, as they cannot get to see an NHS dentist.’

She went on to say: ‘What we urgently need is better access to NHS dentistry for people in Bradford.

‘Prevention must also be at the heart of a new dental contract if we want better standards of oral health for our children – and less pressure on our health service.’

Moira Dumma, director of commissioning operations for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber, replied to the Telegraph and Argus saying: ‘We are currently reviewing how we can improve access to NHS dentists across our region and looking at how we can introduce additional capacity from within our existing budget.

‘We are looking at both in-hours and out of hours’ services and at how people can be better signposted to the most appropriate services.

‘We will be paying particular attention to areas where we know this is particularly challenging.’

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