Most Sheffield patients wait more than two years on dentist waiting list as MP warns of ‘NHS death’

A Sheffield MP has warned ministers of the death of NHS dentistry as most patients in the city are forced to wait more than two years just to get registered.

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 5:00 pm

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, urged ministers in the House of Commons today to reform dentists’ contracts or face the “slow death of NHS dentistry”.

He shared several cases of desperate requests he had received from constituents unable to get treatment.

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Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central

In one case a woman said her partner tried to get a dentist check up for 18 months, ringing every provider within a six mile radius, only to be told they are not taking any patients and they will need to go private.

Ahead of the Commons debate, Mr Blomfield said: “Over recent years, access to NHS dentistry has been consistently raised in the Commons, but the Government has failed to act at every turn. They’ve mismanaged the whole sector, leaving families without access to care. They’ve failed on promises to change the funding arrangement, and cut dental spending by a quarter since 2010.

“I fear that the neglect of NHS dentistry under the Conservatives will lead to a generation of children growing up without sufficient dental care, causing them more serious and more expensive problems in their futures. Ministers must act to reform dental contracts and ensure everyone can access an NHS dentist when they need one.”

Sheffield patients struggling to get registered with a dentist

Mr Blomfield met with the Sheffield Local Dental Committee (LDC) last week to discuss the crisis.

Following their meeting, the LDC commissioned a survey in which 37 dental practices, about half of the city’s providers, responded.

Of those, only one practice could offer a waiting time shorter than a year and 35 percent said they were unable to add any patients to their waiting list at all.

It comes as the number of dentists providing NHS services fell from 24,700 to 21,500 over the past two years.

In the Commons, Mr Blomfield said: “We have reached a tipping point for NHS dentistry. Unless the Government acts, the complaints that we are all getting as members of parliament will only grow.

“We will see more practices moving to private models, all of which will add to the difficulties because the system doesn’t work for them.”

He added: “It is a disgrace, it shames us as a country that last year hospitals in England carried out almost 180 operations a day on children to remove rotting teeth. It cost the NHS more than £40 million. It will impact throughout their life as well.”