Government urged to take action amid town's 'dental desert' fears
- Credit: John Giles/PA Wire
Dentists in Waveney have backed calls for the government to take action over a "growing crisis".
With some people being told they have to wait until 2024 for appointments, and others being removed from their practice lists for not making appointments sooner, numerous concerns have been raised.
An adjournment debate on NHS Dentistry in the area this week, led by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, called on the government to provide dentists with the resources to tackle the backlog and to end the cycle of retirements leading to funds being removed from the area.
During the debate, Mr Aldous said he was receiving "10 emails a week from constituents, many of whom are in agony," looking for an NHS dentist.
Highlighting Community Dental Services (CDS), which opened a new dental clinic in the old magistrates court in Lowestoft last October, Mr Aldous said CDS is concerned "about the lack of access to NHS dental services."
Neil Carmichael, chairman of the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) - a trade association representing dental providers - urged the government to take action to stop Waveney and Norfolk becoming a “dental desert”.
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He said: “Our members face acute recruitment problems in Waveney and other neighbouring coastal and rural areas in Norfolk making delivery of care difficult.
"The pandemic has also created a backlog in patient care and the government must face up to the challenge to recruit more dentists.”
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Mr Aldous also highlighted the situation faced by John G Plummer & Associates - a privately owned family dental practice with 10 NHS practices in Norfolk and Waveney - who are keen to take on more patients.
Praising Mr Aldous' speech, John Plummer, senior partner at John G Plummer & Associates, said he "wasn't criticising the present system" but instead "asking for changes to improve access."
He said: "Some very experienced dental surgeons who have worked in Lowestoft for many years, have closed their own practices and joined us and naturally their patients would like to follow them.
"We are contractually limited as to the amount of NHS dental work we can undertake and are also contracted to spread this work out over the whole year as evenly as possible, thus limiting the number of patients who can be treated."