Patients are queuing at 4am in a desperate attempt to access NHS dental care – a scene that the profession fears will become ‘the new normal for millions’.
Daily queues starting as early as 4am have been reported outside the Avenue Dental Centre in Leigh, Greater Manchester, which offers appointments to all NHS patients on a first-come, first-served basis.
This follows reports from Faversham, Kent, last month, where a practice received 27,000 calls for just 60 NHS slots. Similarly, in May, Kings Lynn saw queues of more than 300 also form from 4am.
Leah Price, who queued in Leigh, requires regular dental treatment as a result of Chron’s Disease.
She told local media: ‘…the people working in the NHS are trying their hardest.
‘But in this country, people should not be camping outside a dentist at 4am on camp chairs just to get on the NHS patient list, it’s wrong.
‘Dental treatment is just as important at the end of the day as other health issues and I’m just in disbelief that this is where we are at.
‘I wasn’t expecting to be added to waiting lists that are two years long and to be within a chance of being seen, I need to camp outside.
‘I also have a child that I have to take to school, so waiting outside for hours isn’t an option for me, it’s a mess.’
— 🌺 Leah Price 🌺 (@LeahPrice_x) August 29, 2023
According to the BDA, figures are now nearly three times pre-pandemic totals. In 2019, unmet need sat at more than four million people – or nearly one in ten adults.
BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘These scenes have no place in wealthy 21st century nation, but risk becoming the new normal for millions of patients.
‘The Conservative Party will gather in Greater Manchester in little under a month. Ministers need to come armed with solutions to this crisis or NHS dentistry won’t have a future.’
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