Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, has written to the Prime Minister pressing him to take urgent action to address the growing crisis in NHS dentistry.
This follows months of constituents being unable to register as a new NHS patient at any practice in Bristol South, or the wider Bristol area, and reports of constituents being removed from patient lists by dentists who now only offer private appointments.
MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have expressed similar concerns about the availability of an NHS dentist for new patients. Boris Johnson indicated in Prime Minister’s Questions last month that he would be happy to take up these concerns with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, but thus far there seem to be no plans in place to address this immediate and worsening issue.
The HealthWatch Bristol web page shows the huge number of people in Bristol struggling to access NHS dental treatment.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:
“Access to NHS dentistry in Bristol South, and indeed in the wider Bristol area, has become increasingly challenging over the last 18 months. As more and more dentists switch to private practice only, constituents are increasingly unable to access treatment as they are unable to register for NHS treatment anywhere or have been de-registered unknowingly.
“Dental practices have faced huge challenges over the last two years, with staff shortages and difficulties accessing much needed PPE, but normal people are paying the price. This has become a health inequality issue with lower-income families unable to pay for dental treatment.
“Over the last 18 months I have contacted ministers on a number of occasions raising this urgent issue, most recently writing to the Prime Minister. I have been told that money is being put into the sector but this won’t have an effect on NHS dentistry accessibility until years down the line. A plan needs to be put in place to address the issue now.”