One Sheffield practice has 700 people on its waiting list and has only managed to take two off in the last two months.
Healthwatch Sheffield has been highlighting the dental crisis all year but now says it has reached a peak.
One in three calls and emails over the last three months to the Sheffield watchdog were from patients trying to access an NHS dentist.
The lack of access has intensified over the last 18 months and the rise in negative feedback has been seen all across England.
Healthwatch Sheffield says it’s a ‘stark reminder’ that the Government needs to act now.
Two year wait for an NHS dentist in Sheffield
Its report says: “The NHS website says almost a fifth of dentists in Yorkshire are currently accepting new NHS patients.
“This doesn’t fit with what you’ve been telling us locally, so this week our team did our own mystery shopper exercise.
“Out of 50 practices, 21 said online that they were accepting new NHS patients, but we phoned each one and it painted a very different picture.
“Just one dental practice said they could actually book us an NHS appointment – and the patient would need to visit the practice to provide photo ID and a proof of address first in order to do this.
“Eight practices said they couldn’t add us to a waiting list, with most giving no further information. Only two of the eight said they expected to reopen their waiting lists next year.
“There were 12 practices who said we could go on their waiting list, but these waiting lists were extremely long.
“One practice said at least a year, while all the others said 18-24 months or two years plus. To give us a sense of timing, one practice said that there were 700 people on their list, and they’ve only managed to take two off in the last two months.
“Several practices offered us private treatment, suggesting we could book an appointment much sooner, in January or February 2022, if we signed up to their private treatment plan.”
“NHS dentistry is not working”
National body Healthwatch England has published a new briefing highlighting the struggles of people trying to access NHS dental care.
It is urging the Government and NHS England to speed up dental reform and provide funding to tackle the underlying problems of access and affordability.
Healthwatch Sheffield added: “NHS dentistry should be in the frontline of tackling health inequalities and at the moment it is not working.
“Lack of access to dental care, particularly for children, is a hugely worrying issue that the NHS must tackle immediately. It will have a negative effect on the lifelong health of our population.
“We know you need to see tangible change and we will keep pushing this issue locally and nationally. Help us make the case even stronger and tell us about your own experiences here.”