Britons turn to ‘DIY dentistry’ as over 90% of practices not taking new patients – ‘dire’

Rishi Sunak urged to bring in £30 NHS GP no-show fines

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Broad swathes of the British population are resorting to “DIY dentistry” because they are unable to get an appointment, Louise Ansari, national director of Healthwatch England has said. It comes after a survey by the British Dental Association (BDA) and BBC found the majority of NHS dental practices in the UK are unable to offer appointments to new adult patients. Ms Ansari told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the research really does confirm and amplify what we’ve been saying for a couple of years and the situation is pretty dire, isn’t it?

“So many people can’t get an NHS dentist appointment, they’re in pain, they’re anxious, some people can’t eat or speak properly.

“And suddenly, indeed, it’s not unusual for us to hear stories of DIY dentistry, things like making teeth out of resin and sticking them into their gums with superglue, which is an absolute desperate situation for somebody to be in.

Asked if she had heard of people pulling out their own teeth, Ms Ansari added: “Yes, absolutely.”

It comes amid a damning new survey by the British Dental Association and the BBC, which found 91 percent of NHS practices across England were not accepting new adult patients, with this figure rising to 97 percent in the east midlands, and 98 percent in the south-west, north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Across Northern Ireland, 90 percent of NHS practices were not accepting new adult patients, while the figure stood at 82 percent in Scotland, and 93 percent in Wales.

The survey also found that of the practices that were not taking on new adults in England, only 23 percent had an open waiting list, and 16 percent said the waiting time was at least a year, or were unable to give an estimate as to how long it would be.

BBC News contacted nearly 7,000 NHS practices – believed to be almost all those offering general treatment to the public.

The British Dental Association (BDA) called it “the most comprehensive and granular assessment of patient access in the history of the service”.

The damning report also found one in 10 local authorities did not have any practices taking on under-16s for NHS treatment, despite children in full-time education being entitled to completely free care on the health service.

What’s more, about 200 practices said they would take on a child under the NHS only if a parent signed up as a private patient.

Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, said: “NHS dentistry is at a tipping point, with millions unable to get the care they need and more dentists leaving with every day that passes.

“We’re seeing the results of years of chronic neglect, set into overdrive by the pressures of the pandemic. The question now is will ministers step up before it’s too late?

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