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Stratford dentists have no space for new NHS patients, health bosses report

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Dentist Photo: iStock
Dentist Photo: iStock

FIGURES released by pressure group Healthwatch Warwickshire reveal that people living in parts of the county are unable to see an NHS dentist, writes David Lawrence, Local Democracy Reporter.

Stratford and Rugby have been flagged up as areas of particular concern prompting fears for the long-term dental hygiene of some of those most in need.

Chris Bain, chief executive of the group, explained the findings at Tuesday's health and wellbeing board meeting of Warwickshire County Council.

As part of Healthwatch’s annual report he said that 42 dental practices were contacted as part of a survey carried out in the summer. Aside from Rugby and Stratford, the situation was slightly better elsewhere in the county with two of the three dentists in North Warwickshire accepting NHS patients while in Warwick and Nuneaton and Bedworth it was around half of those contacted.

Mr Bain explained the situation was not confined to Warwickshire with similar problems being experienced elsewhere across the region.

He said: “Our volunteers rang every dental practice in Warwickshire to ask about the availability of NHS appointments.

“A couple of particular hotspots have emerged in Warwickshire as a consequence of this survey. In Rugby, none of the seven practices who talked to us are taking on NHS patients and in Stratford, one practice out of 13 was taking on NHS patients but we understand that none of them are now.

“The position seems to be deteriorating. I have a lot of sympathy with dentists because the cleaning and ventilation requirements they have between patients are enormous.

“My biggest concern is the long-term implications for the oral health of children and older people and that we might be missing conditions such as oral cancers.”

Cllr Margaret Bell (Con, Hartshill and Mancetter), who chaired the meeting, added her concerns and urged representatives from NHS England to attend a future meeting so that the shortcomings could be discussed.

She said: “I am particularly concerned about children. I assume that when they say they do not take NHS patients that includes children, which is just appalling.

“This is a really serious issue. It was a really good report – and worrying.”

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