Sheffield NHS dental services are ‘in a total catastrophic mess’ says councillor
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Sheffield City Council member Ruth Milsom made the comment during a meeting of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire joint health overview and scrutiny committee, held at Sheffield Town Hall (August 23). Coun Milsom also chairs the council’s health scrutiny sub-committee.
Speaking during a discussion of a five-year strategy for the NHS in South Yorkshire, Coun Milsom said: “I have to raise dentistry. It’s in a total catastrophic mess.”
Coun Milsom explained that she had fallen off her dentist’s list because she hasn’t been since pre-Covid and her surgery said repeatedly they were still catching up and routine appointments were not being prioritised.
“I left it and left it – I missed the one email they sent inviting me to come for my routine check-up eventually – missed that email and dropped off the list without any warning,” she said.
“I phoned another surgery, checked on the NHS site, which surgeries are taking NHS patients – a tiny number say they are but when I phoned, the first one I phoned said ‘yes we are taking new NHS adult patients but there’s a four-year waiting list’.
‘Pit of despair’
“I don’t need to say any more about this but it is in a total pit of despair and Healthwatch in Sheffield conducted an exercise about 18 months ago where they phoned every surgery in Sheffield and there wasn’t a single surgery taking NHS patients at that point in time. That was still Covid recovery etc.
“My surgery said I could go back on the list but there was a waiting list of 2,000 people. So we are grossly under-resourced and I’ve no doubt this is the same in Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.”
She asked for NHS bosses in the meeting to go away and come back with a ‘robust’ plan, adding: “It gets a mention in the report – there are ambitions and targets but it’s so far from being met I can’t see how you can get there.”
Rotherham councillor Taiba Yasseen said she went to a regional NHS briefing about how a share of £50 million national funding to increase access to dentistry would be spent in areas including Rotherham.
“Any simple question about how do they decide where to invest that in Rotherham, it was probably one of the most shocking experiences I’ve had with a public health body in terms of how they decided on what their strategy was, where to put that investment,” she said.
“It was very haphazardly done, a high concentration on one part of the borough and hardly anything in the wider echelons of Rotherham, also it wasn’t really based upon need.”
She said that there should have been a focused outcome of what the extra funding would achieve.
Proposals outlined in the five-year forward plan drawn up by South Yorkshire NHS Integrated Care Board include an intention to recover dental activity to pre-pandemic levels and ensure patient satisfaction with accessing NHS dental services. Commissioning of dental services comes under a different organisation, NHS South Yorkshire.
Actions include work to “develop a sustainable and appropriately trained dental workforce”.