‘Broken’ NHS system blamed for shortage
Patients requiring an NHS dentist could face 30-mile round trips after overwhelmed practices in Bury St Edmunds closed their lists.
The pressure on NHS dentists in the town follows the closure of mydentist in King’s Road at the end of February, forcing its patients to source treatment elsewhere.
At that time another mydentist practice, in Risbygate Street, was still accepting NHS patients, but it has since stopped.
As a result, patients must now travel to Thetford, Mildenhall, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Sudbury, Newmarket or East Harling if they want to register at an NHS practice.
This week, the British Dental Association (BDA) said it was seeing problems like those in Bury across the country, with access to NHS dentistry a ‘postcode lottery’.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielson, chairman of general dental practice at the BDA, said: “Bury has joined a growing list of communities failed by a broken NHS dental system.
“These access problems exist because funding is set aside for barely half the population, while our contracts effectively cap the number of patients we can treat.
“It’s ludicrous that residents are facing 30-mile round trips when local practices with capacity are forbidden from doing more.”
The British Dental Association said NHS contracts meant dentists were penalised if they did not hit Government treatment targets, or were not allowed to do more once targets had been reached even if they had capacity to meet demand.
The BDA is calling for the Government to reform the NHS funding system and for the introduction of a ‘prevention-focused’ model.
n To find an NHS dentist, go to NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk