7:30 AM September 3, 2022
A city family has been forced to travel more than 1,000 miles just for trips to the dentist as the crippling shortage in Norwich deepens.
Arran Chapling lives in Old Catton with his wife Ruth and three children Elouise, Imogen and Dylan.
The family moved to Norwich from Oxford in 2018 and remain on the waiting list to find a local dentist.
And earlier this year Imogen, 12, suffered severe toothache.
Mr Chapling, 36, said: “Her face swelled up horribly.
“We phoned 101 and were told to call a number of different emergency lines – all of which couldn’t see her.
“The whole of Norfolk couldn’t get her an appointment.
“Eventually we had to go private city clinic to get the tooth removed and the infection cleaned.”
After this the family found out they were still registered with their dentist in Oxford.
So when Mr Chapling’s wife cracked her tooth a few months ago she decided to take pain-staking 300-mile round trip.
Mr Chapling, a professional carpet cleaner, added: “She booked an appointment, saw them, then came straight home again.
“Two weeks later she had to travel all the way back to have the actual work done.
“We had to all go a few weeks ago as well – just for a check up.
“The only feasible way to do it was have a two-day holiday with the kids.
“My son is six and he’s only ever seen a dentist once in his life which was a few weeks ago.
“We have to go again in October for some additional work to be completed.”
After multiple journeys the family will have travelled around 1,200 miles.
Mr Chapling said: “It’s outrageous and a complete failure of NHS dentistry.
“It’s cost hundreds of pounds just to get there and back.
“I know how stretched all the services are currently but Norfolk in general seems to be struggling more.
“We shouldn’t have to travel so far just for a check up.”
Dentistry on the brink
According to the British Dental Association (BDA) 91pc of NHS dental practices are unable to offer appointments to new adult patients.
It also said that 79pc of NHS practices were not accepting new child patients.
The crisis facing the service across England is being fuelled by a discredited NHS contract, which funds care for barely half the population and, according to critics, puts government targets ahead of patient care.
NHS England recently announced changes to this system.
However dentist leaders say that the changes, which come without any new investment, will not address the problems patients face accessing services or keep dentists in the NHS.
And thousands of NHS dentists have left the service since lockdown.
Last week the Health and Social Care Committee dubbed the contract “not fit for purpose”.
They called for urgent reform and pledged a dedicated inquiry into the crisis in the service.