Cornwall patients waiting a year for NHS dental appointment

Patients in Penzance are waiting 12 months for the next available NHS dental appointment.

Cornwall Live reports check ups cancelled by text with August 2020 the next available appointment date.

NHS data shows no practices within a 120-mile trip of Penzance are currently accepting new NHS patients.

‘If you’ve broken a tooth the offer of a dental appointment a year away is nothing short of an insult,’ chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, Dave Cottam, said.

‘This is just the latest evidence of the crisis facing NHS dentistry.

‘Millions of patients risk losing out, as budgets are squeezed and vacancies are left unfilled.

‘We will only see progress when ministers stop treating dentistry as an optional extra.

‘And when they deliver the reform and investment this service desperately needs.’

Recruitment crisis

The BDA is pointing to a ‘recruitment crisis’ as the main reason patients are unable to get a dental appointment.

It claims access issues have mounted in recent years across England as recruitment and retention problems worsened.

In Penzance, Bupa says it is unable to fill current vacancies in its practices.

‘We’re very sorry about the long wait for NHS appointments at our Penzance practice,’ Raphael Rashid, regional operations director for Bupa Dental Care, said to Cornwall Live.

‘We want to reassure our patients that we’re working hard on our recruitment efforts.

‘And we’re working closely with the local NHS team to find a resolution and bring in more support.

‘In the meantime we’re still able to see emergency patients at short notice.

‘Anyone requiring immediate assistance should contact the practice as usual.’

Mass exodus

NHS dentistry is facing a potential mass exodus, with 77% of dentists looking to leave in the next five years.

Practice Plan’s 2019 Dentistry Confidence Monitor asked 420 dentists and professionals about their levels of happiness within NHS dentistry.

‘Almost a quarter of respondents intend to take retirement earlier than originally planned,’ the survey says.

‘Whilst a fifth are seeking to change profession altogether.

‘Almost half of those planning to stay in dentistry expect to have moved to predominantly private care within the next five years.’

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