People in England live in pain because they can’t access NHS dentistrya guard finds.

As well as closing dentists for the new NHS patientsHealthwatch England said the problem has been exacerbated by rising cost of living.

The NHS, which represents the interests of patients, said some people suffer from pain, cannot speak and eat properly because they cannot find a cure.

The poorest in the country, who are the least able to afford private services, have suffered the most, it added.

The overseer said that the crisis had created a two-tier system that sows the divide between rich and poor, and called on the government to pay “urgent attention” to the issue.

Louise Ansari, national director of Healthwatch England, said: “Now the crisis is deepening.”

“The shortage of appointments in the NHS creates a two-tier dental system that increases inequality and harms the health of the most disadvantaged communities.

“Due to the fact that millions of families bear the brunt of rising living costs, private treatment is simply not an option, and even NHS fees can be a problem. This requires immediate attention if the government wants to achieve its alignment plan and tackle health imbalances.

“We reiterate our call on the Department of Health and Human Services and the NHS England to increase the ambition and urgency of NHS dental reform plans to create a fair and inclusive dental service. We strongly encourage you to sign a new dental contract before Integrated Care Systems takes official responsibility for dentistry from April next year. ”

“Tooth deserts” are reported to be forming across England.

(PA Archive)

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSC) responded to the calls, saying he was “committed” to addressing the issues on the upgrade agenda.

He added that it is increasing investment in services to improve access, and is committed to reforming the system.

An area of ​​particular concern to Healthwatch England is Somerset. It says residents of the entire county cannot register as the new NHS dentist patients for routine care.

According to Healthwatch Somerset, a third of the calls she received three months before February 2022 were related to problems with access to NHS dentistry – with many calls concerning children, pregnant women and people who cannot afford private dental care.

He also warned that some seniors in nursing homes had been struck off NHS dentists ’lists after they were unable to come to the reception during the pandemic.

Many NHS dentists remove patients from their lists if they have not come to the appointment within a certain time frame.

Somerset patient, 27-year-old Lydia Davis, who moved to Bridgewater in early 2020, said she could not find an NHS dentist within two hours.

She told the PA news agency that she suffers from a form of gum disease called gingivitis, and her gums often bleed when she brushes her teeth, she also needs two new fillings and a wisdom tooth removal.

After she was unable to find a local NHS supplier, she turned to private services.

“Sitting in a dentist’s office, listening to a list of procedures, the cost of £ 1,100 brought me to tears. These expenses were in addition to the £ 50 I had to spend to get her meeting, ”Lydia said.

She added: “Every time I eat and feel a tingling sensation, my heart stops beating – I panic that something terrible is happening again, I am constantly worried and my mental health suffers from it.

“It’s unfair when people who earn high wages enjoy cheap NHS dental services, while others with low incomes get into debt trying to take care of themselves.

“There is no private dentistry option that would be available. Even the use of the word “available” for private dental care is a slap in the face when you pay taxes on vital services to which you do not have access. “

A survey of more than 2,000 adults in England, commissioned by the NHS, found that about half of those surveyed had visited an NHS dentist in the last two years.

Of those, 41 percent said it was difficult to make an appointment, 20 percent said they could not access all the necessary procedures, while 17 percent felt forced to pay in person.

Of those who did not see an NHS dentist, most either did not need treatment, chose not to go to the dentist, or were willing to pay for private care.

But 21 percent said they wanted to be treated at the NHS but were unable to find any dental services on site.

Sean Charleswood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s General Committee on Dental Practice, said: “For more than a decade this service has been running empty, our patients are paying more so the Treasury can pay less.

“The choice made by the government means that dentists are now leaving the NHS and millions of people are left without the necessary help.

“The problem made in Whitehall needs to be addressed in Whitehall through real reforms and fair funding.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Dentistry is an important service of the NHS and that is why we have taken unprecedented steps to support NHS dentists, including financial protection, to keep dental practices continuing to offer valuable services to patients, and allocating an additional £ 50 million. for people in need of urgent care. “

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said: “We have allocated £ 50 million to the NHS to fund up to 350,000 additional visits to dentists and we are increasing the workforce so people can get the necessary oral care.

“During the pandemic, we asked dentists to prioritize opportunities for vulnerable groups and those in urgent need while continuing to provide free dental care to groups such as pregnant women, young people and low-income people.

“Now that we are learning to live with Covid, we are committed to aligning health outcomes – including on dental issues – across the country, and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives, regardless of background.”

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