Lack of access to NHS dental treatment, including other NHS services, has got MPs worried. Concerns were raised before the summer holiday period and have been highlighted again this week. Exeter Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, expressed concern by stating that he was ‘extremely worried’ about what impact the hefty waiting lists were having on people’s dental health. Bradshaw feels that the system is reverting back to pre-Labour government days, where people are unable to get in a dentist.
The lack of services could be due, in part, to the rule established in 2006 where dentists are not able to set up in practice unless they have been commissioned to do so. Some existing local NHS dentists say they are at breaking point due to extremely high patient caseloads. One dentist explained that the waiting lists are huge and their NHS books are that full they physically cannot take any more patients. Practices in Exeter have taken to contacting patients on their waiting lists to enquire whether they are still wanting treatment or not, and if not removing them in an attempt to shorten the waiting times for new registrations.
The concerns are growing and MPs are likely to keep this issues in the forefront of their discussions in the immediate future.