NEW data has revealed deaths related to poor oral hygiene are at a five-year high across the country as more and more people struggle to find a dentist.
In Warrington, dentistry has been made a key priority by Healthwatch Warrington following concerns raised by members of the public.
Issues in Warrington include patients being deregistered by their practice, without being informed and only finding out when they came to make an appointment.
Between March 2020 and August this year Healthwatch Warrington received 170 phone calls and 91 emails from people raising issues with dentistry in the town.
CEO Lydia Thompson said: “We work closely with the Dental team at NHS England, and escalate all emergency queries where people are in pain and in need of emergency treatment.
“We are working with Cheshire and Mersey Healthwatch colleagues to share data and we feed into Healthwatch England Dentistry campaign. Healthwatch Warrington also escalates queries to the Warrington Scrutiny Board.”
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Meanwhile, GB News used Freedom of Information laws and sent requests to every hospital trust in the UK asking how many people had been referred with teeth, gum and other mouth-related injuries.
Of the 88 that responded, 73 percent saw a rise in 2021 compared to the year before.
The most shocking spike was recorded by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, which had 67,091 patients in its centres in 2020, increasing to 85,887 in 2021.
Meanwhile, separate data obtained by GB News from the Office for National Statistics revealed mouth related deaths are at their highest in five years. In 2016, 2,582 people died due to an oral-related reason – that increased to 2,958 last year.
The British Dental Association told GB News the figures reveal that there are now more oral-related deaths than from car accidents and slammed the Government over its lack of support for the industry.
Chair of the trade union Eddie Crouch said: “As this devastating research from GB News shows, treating dentistry as a Cinderella service impacts every corner of our NHS.
“It’s the overstretched GPs and A&E staff getting daily visits from patients unable to access dental care. It’s the scandal that tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.
“Now it’s the oral cancers missed. This condition claims more lives than car accidents, yet there seems no willingness to support the dentists on the frontline in this battle.”
Campaign group Toothless In England says health ministers should “hang their head in shame” over the looming “disaster”.
Its co-founder Mark Jones said: “These latest figures from GB News follow a report published a few weeks ago which evidenced that 90 per cent of NHS practices are not accepting new patients.
“Here we are today with further evidence of the decline in NHS dentistry as a result of successive governments since 2006 turning their backs on the nation’s oral health.
“Whichever way you slice up these figures, there’s no cause to be optimistic whatsoever.
“What we’re seeing is the final death throes of NHS dentistry with the ultimate price being paid for by agonising waits on an already overstretched and underfunded A&E.
“Government ministers and NHS commissioners must hang their heads in shame.
“They are offering zero help and zero hope.
“The cost of living crisis is putting oral health to the back of people’s minds as they struggle to put food on the table and the prospect of being unable to heat their homes this winter.”
Responding to GB News, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are improving access to dental care for all NHS patients, backed by more than £3 billion in funding each year and an extra £50 million last year to help bust the Covid backlogs. Between April 2021 and March 2022, NHS dentists delivered 26.4 million courses of treatment, more than double the previous 12 months.
“Through the reforms we announced in July, the best performing practices will be able to see more patients, making better use of the range of professionals working in the sector such as dental therapists, hygienists and nurses, while also rewarding dentists more fairly for providing more complex care.”