SALISBURY residents with little hope of obtaining an NHS dental appointment have had to suffer from toothache and go without treatment or pay inflated costs to be seen privately.
The situation is unlikely to improve in the short term as there are no NHS dental surgeries taking on new patients in the area.
Following the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s emergency statement on the public finances, the British Dental Association (BDA) publicly warned that further cuts risked destroying any prospect of saving NHS dentistry in England.
Read more: NHS dentistry will die
In a recent interview with Salisbury and South Wiltshire MP John Glen, he admitted that it was an area that he needed to focus on.
He said: “To be honest, there is some work going on about that and I had a meeting with the Health Secretary last week. I met with a dentist here in February and I think the key to solving it is to find a better way to incentivise dentists to take on NHS patients. There is more work to be done.
“You can be fully trained by the state to be a dentist and on day one, you can go and work privately and exclusively. I don’t think that can be right.”
According to the BDA, the current system caps spending so would cover barely more than half the population and although minor tweaks are in place, it will do little to improve patient access or to stop dentists from leaving the NHS.
In his weekly Salisbury Journal column, John Glen stated that he would attend the forthcoming debate on access to dentistry and hopefully, get a chance to speak as the lack of NHS capacity in Salisbury had cropped up regularly in his inbox.
He had been following closely ongoing efforts to address the challenge of designing a funding model that incentivises more dentists to retain a significant NHS offering as part of their business.
During the debate, he asked for more radical and fundamental review of the units of dental activity funding module and to look at the volume of patients and the real dynamics and choices that a dentist makes.
Read more: Dental crisis affects children’s teeth
Without sufficient NHS dentists, parents are unable to have their children’s teeth checked.
Salisbury resident Matthew Cowen previously told The Journal that they had been trying to get an NHS dental appointment for their children but had given up and taken alternate steps.
He said: “We couldn’t get them registered with an NHS dentist, so we had to go for MyOptions – a slightly cheaper plan with less benefits than DenPlan.”
The chair of the BDA, Eddie Crouch said: “Without fair funding for NHS dentistry, there was little scope to do more than rearrange the deckchairs as the ship goes down. New cuts will only speed that process along.
“Since the financial crash, dentists have faced cuts with no parallel anywhere in the NHS. There is simply no more fat to trim, short of denying access to an even greater proportion of the population.
“In his former role, the Chancellor recognised the scale of this crisis. NHS dentistry is already on the critical list. Any further cuts will kill the patient.”