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Thousands of new patients unable to get dentist appointment on NHS, according to survey

PUBLISHED: 07:10 02 February 2019

Thousands of people are unable to get a dental appointment on the NHS in Suffolk,  according to a survey commissioned by NHS England

Thousands of people are unable to get a dental appointment on the NHS in Suffolk, according to a survey commissioned by NHS England

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The crisis facing new patients seeking dental treatment on the NHS in Suffolk has been laid bare after it was revealed that more than 11,000 people were unable to get an appointment.

A total of 11,766 new patients in Suffolk were unable to get an appointment according to data from the 2018 GP survey.

In Ipswich and east Suffolk, 6,689 people were unable to get an appointment, a quarter of all new patients.

In west Suffolk, 5,077 people were unable to get an appointment, 29% of all new patients seeking an appointment.

The figures have been obtained by the British Dental Association from a survey carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of NHS England.

It provides figures for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning group (CCG) and the NHS West Suffolk CCG.

The survey showed there were 3,143 new patients unable to get an appointment in the NHS Mid Essex CCG, 14% of the total number of new patients.

In the NHS North East Essex CCG, there were 1,903 new patients unable to get an appointment, 6% of the total number of new patients.

In Suffolk, dental practices blamed the NHS England funding formula for playing a big part in why practices were choosing to withdraw from providing treatment on the NHS, leaving so many people unable to get an appointment.

Funding is based on “units of dental activity” or UDAs, such as a check up, a filling or scale and polish.

The number of UDAs are set per practice and once the maximum number has been reached practices are not allowed to carry out more until a new contract is agreed with NHS England.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “More than nine out of ten people needing a dental appointment get one, with a clear majority saying they are happy with their care, which reflects the fact that the overall number of dentists offering NHS care is 2,965 higher than a decade ago.”

Eddie Crouch, vice chair of the British Dental Association, said: “High Street NHS dentistry is on the brink and it’s the patients who need us most who risk losing out.

“Across the East of England practices are now unable to fill vacancies as a system of unforgiving targets pushes talented colleagues out.

“The result is tens of thousands of irregular attendees - many with poor oral health - are falling through the cracks.

“These aren’t just patients seeking a regular check-up. They are often people in pain, left without the care they need.”

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