York patients tell how dental crisis is hitting them

PATIENTS have told how they have been left in a limbo by York’s growing dental crisis – with holes in their teeth which they can’t get filled and check-ups due which they can’t obtain.

The Press asked readers for their dental experiences after York Central MP Rachael Maskell revealed in the Commons how the city was being hit by a growing shortage of dentists and an exodus of dentists from the NHS.

These are three of the responses:

  • Tony Pickering said that he and his wife, both disabled and living on benefits, had been ‘dropped’ recently by a York practice, and offered a payment plan of about £200 a year each, just for check ups before payments for any work required.

“We can’t cover the household bills let alone pay someone this,” he said. “A filling they did for me last year fell out recently, but I can’t afford to have it replaced. Is this really how our society treats the most vulnerable?”

  • Graham Nurden said that earlier this year a York NHS dentist gave his wife a filling but they were then unable to make an appointment for a routine check-up six months later, as the practice no longer had NHS dentists.

He said he was now in a limbo after telephoning various dental practices and finding they weren’t taking NHS patients. “My wife and I are now waiting for out of date NHS check ups and holes in our teeth which require fillings.”

  • A third reader said he moved to York from London last year, and spent a great deal of time calling every practice in the city with no luck, and with waits of at least 3-4 years at the few practices still keeping NHS waiting lists. “I have needed emergency treatment on two occasions, which I had to arrange through NHS 111, each time waiting on hold for around an hour to be offered appointments in Easingwold and Northallerton, owing to the absence of dentists in York, each requiring long public transport trips,” he said.

“It is an absolute scandal that this basic healthcare service is only available to those who can pay.”

Ms Maskell said she had been told by a constituent that Aldwark practice – ‘one of the few which has worked hard to maintain good NHS services throughout this dental crisis’ – had told them four dentists were leaving NHS work.

A practice spokesperson said there was currently an acute shortage of dentists across the UK and the practice had experienced some of these shortages. “But we would like to reassure patients that their NHS dental care will continue and that we are doing everything possible to recruit new clinicians to join the practice team.”


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