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Cornwall patients 'facing 12 month waits' to see a dentist

Cornwall patients 'facing 12 month waits' to see a dentist

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:16am 26th September 2019. (Updated at 3:08pm 26th September 2019)

It is claimed patients in a Cornish town are waiting up to 12 months for an NHS dentist appointment.

The British Dental Association is demanding government action over reports of cancelled slots in Penzance.

It says in one case, a patient with a chipped tooth was told the next available window was August 2020.

Local mum, Rachel Yates, is not happy at how long she has had to wait to reschedule her family's appointments.

"I was told we couldn't get anything until December".

teeth dentist
It is claimed patients in a Cornish town are facing 12 month waits for an NHS dentist appointment

"I had an appointment in March. I got a text on the day of my appointment telling me that mine and my whole family's appointment had been cancelled. When I rang to reschedule the appointment, I was told we couldn't get anything until December.

"My teeth need checking, I've got a few things going on and I really want to get that appointment in December.

"But I'm quite worried that I'm going to get a text on the day again telling me that I can't go in and I'm going to have to wait until even later in 2020 to get an appointment".

Penzance Mum, Rachel Yates

The British Dental Association is demanding that the government takes action to help towns like Penzance.

It says NHS.uk data currently shows that no practices within a 120m round trip from the town are 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. 

"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 deliver the reform and investment this service desperately needs".

British Dental Association, Dave Cottam

dentist
The British Dental Association is demanding government action amid reports of cancelled appointments in Penzance

Pirate FM has contacted Bupa Dental about the reports of cancelled NHS appointments at the Bupa Medical Centre in Penzance. They said there is a national shortage of dentists affecting practices across the country.

“We’re very sorry about the long wait for NHS appointments at our Penzance practice.

"We want to reassure our patients that we’re working hard on our recruitment efforts, and closely with the local NHS team, to find a resolution and bring in more support as soon as we can.”

Raphael Rashid, Regional Operations Director for Bupa Dental Care

NHS England and NHS Improvement South West says access to NHS dentistry in Cornwall is better than the national average.

"Vacancies at dental surgeries are arising constantly, but tend not to be listed on nhs.uk because we encourage practices to refer people to our helpline instead so they can be placed in a systematic way (which is why claims based on nhs.uk are meaningless)

"This system enabled the helpline to place 1,000 Cornish patients a month on average in 2018/19 

"If practices had been able to meet their NHS contracts, there would be no waiting list at all

"Recruitment and retention are the key reason for the shortfall

"We are working on a number of initiatives to improve the position in Cornwall.

"People should use the helpline to find a dentist".

NHS England and NHS Improvement South West

If you are struggling to find an NHS dentist in Cornwall, you can read more advice here.

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