Patients having to rely on charity for dental treatment a ‘national disgrace’

Dentaid, a charity that normally operates in the Third World, came to Bury St Edmunds earlier this m

Dentaid, a charity that normally operates in the Third World, came to Bury St Edmunds last year and is returning this week to run free emergency dental clinics - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

The dental charity Dentaid will this week administer urgent treatment to people in Leiston and Bury St Edmunds unable to access an NHS dentist - but the situation has been branded a "national disgrace".

Toothless In Suffolk co-founder Steve Marsling, who helped arrange the return of dental charity Dentaid to Suffolk, has hit out at the ongoing problems facing the county. 

Bury St Edmunds protest march in October, 2021

A Bury St Edmunds protest march took place in October 2021 - Credit: Sas Astro

Dentaid’s mobile clinic arrives at Leiston’s Waterloo Centre on Wednesday, February 2, it then crosses the county to The Thomas Clarkson Centre in Bury St Edmunds the following day, February 3.

Local volunteer dentists will provide the treatment free of charge from 10am until 4pm to people who are in pain and need extractions or fillings.

Steve, who successfully lobbied local councils and councillors to help finance Dentaid’s visit to the town, said: “We shouldn't have to rely on charity. Governments have neglected NHS dentistry for far too long.

Steve Marsling delivering a petition over lack of Suffolk dental provision to Jo Churchill's office

Toothless In Suffolk co-founder Steve Marsling - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"This week, we will see scores of people from Leiston and beyond queuing up begging for treatment outside a mobile clinic run by a charity originally set up to help treat the dental needs of people in developing countries.

"The NHS we know and love isn’t there for us anymore. It’s a national disgrace.”

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Bury St Edmunds councillor and Toothless in Suffolk campaigner Darren Turner, got together with other local councillors and utilised some of their councillor funding to meet the costs of Dentaid’s second visit to the town.

Darren said: “Dentaid treated over 70 patients when they came to Bury St Edmunds last year. The demand was so great that they were willing to make a return visit.

"I fully expect to see long queues for treatment once again, with everyone no doubt saying that calling 111 to find a dentist treating NHS patients is a pointless exercise because there aren't any dentists taking on NHS patients locally.

"We've heard some truly shocking stories of people in so much pain that they're resorting to DIY dentistry. Some have even pulled out their own teeth! If it wasn't for Dentaid, people would be without any hope of treatment.”

It has been announced that £50million of NHS England funding will help to secure thousands of additional dental appointments, with £5.7m allocated for the East of England.

Previously, a government spokesperson said: “Work is underway on dental contract reform. We are working with partners, including the British Dental Association, to look at alternative ways of commissioning services 
and making the NHS a more attractive place to work for dentists.”