50% of people have not visited NHS dentist in past two years, report finds
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
A Suffolk mum-of-three has described how her teeth leave her in "constant pain", as a report reveals only half of people in the UK have visited an NHS dentist in the past two years.
Healthwatch England, a patient representative body, surveyed 2,000 adults revealing that 41% had found it difficult to book a dentist appointment, while 20% said they could not access all the treatments they needed and 17% felt pressured to pay privately.
The report showed the poorest were the worst affected as they were unable to pay for private dentistry.
The Suffolk mum, who did not wish to be named, has suffered severe tooth decay and now struggles to eat due to the problems of accessing dental care as increasing numbers of dentists close to new NHS patients.
She gets constant infections in her mouth and blisters on her tongue, as well as cold sores. She also has a denture that does not fit.
The pain means she struggles to bite solid foods and has to eat soup most days.
At the end of April, the EADT revealed The Thatch Dental Practice in King Street, Mildenhall had to cut services to some patients after its temporary NHS contract was revoked.
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Campaign group Toothless in Suffolk is fighting to reinstate NHS dentistry in the county.
Mark Jones, the group’s co-founder, said: “It comes as no surprise to anyone who lives in the more rural parts of the country to hear that NHS dental provision is next to impossible to access.
“It has now reached levels never seen before and is even happening in our big cities such as London, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton and Bristol.
“Decades of neglect in tackling the root of the problem – the NHS dental contract and inadequate financing – lays firmly at the feet of successive governments and the treasury since 2006."
Mr Jones wanted an NHS dentist for everyone, saying that people had paid for care through National Insurance contributions.
He added: “The health inequalities we see don’t just affect individuals, but communities too. Focus on levelling up in this area is long overdue.”