Dental patients left in pain by failing system, finds watchdog

Posted On 30 Mar 2021 at 12:01 am

People are suffering dental pain and distress and finding it hard to get help, according to a new report by a health watchdog.

The toothaches, untended decay and even untreated mouth cancers are symptoms of a dental crisis, according to Healthwatch Brighton and Hove.

Research found that dentists are struggling to provide services, cope personally and survive commercially – but some are encouraging patients to go private and pay when they are entitled to NHS treatment.

David Liley, the chief executive of Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, said: “Locally and nationally, dental concerns are second only to covid as issues raised with Healthwatch by the public.

“Some dentists in our city are providing an outstanding service and the last thing we want to do is to criticise them.

“But for many people the reality has been of living with pain, dental distress and not knowing where to go for help.

“We have escalated these issues nationally and to NHS leaders in Sussex.

“Our MPs have asked questions in Parliament and we meet regularly with local dentists and NHS England.

“But so far there is no clear path to a better future for dental care.

“People cannot find a dentist when they need one.

“Serious dental issues like mouth cancers are not being identified.

“Dentists are finding their contract arrangements difficult.

“The system is simply broken and needs radical reform.”

Healthwatch England declared a national dental crisis last month and Healthwatch Brighton and Hove said that its latest report on the subject demonstrated further system failure.

Even basic advice and information on dental care was found to be confusing and often inaccurate or misleading.

And some of the 43 local NHS practices had contradictory information on their websites and answerphone messages.

To read the full report, click here.

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