Police in Bristol were recorded breaking up queues of people who were attempting to access NHS dental care in the city.
The British Dental Association has warned that current government policies will not ease the crisis in NHS dentistry, following unprecedented scenes in Bristol as police attempted to turn away hundreds of people seeking NHS care.
Lines formed early this morning outside a former practice site, now reopening as Saint Pauls Dental Practice. According to The Guardian, the St Pauls area in Bristol has been without a dentist for seven months after the site closed last June.
Long queues formed when the practice opened at around 10am. Videos posted on social media site X show police attempting to disperse crowds and control the line at around midday.
The government is expected to publish the long-awaited recovery plan for NHS dentistry tomorrow (7 February).
Shawn Charlwood, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee said: ‘Does the future of NHS dentistry involve the police turning away desperate patients?
‘If ministers think sticking plaster polices will solve this crisis, then these scenes will be repeated.
‘Nothing short of fundamental reform can save this service and restore access to millions.’
This comes as research reveals continued dental disparities between the most and least deprived areas in England.
New data on the oral health of year six schoolchildren shows those living in the most deprived areas of the country were more than twice as likely to have experience of tooth decay (23%) as those living in the least deprived areas (10%).
The survey also finds big disparities in the prevalence of experience of tooth decay among ethnic groups that remain concentrated in urban areas.
Levels are significantly higher in the ‘other’ ethnic group (22%) and Asian or Asian British ethnic group (18%) than in the white ethnic group (16%) and black or black British ethnic group (13%).
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