Over 4,000 people living in Plymouth are on the waiting list for a place with an NHS dentist, the National Health Service has revealed. Although this figure has dropped from 6,300 from last year, a large portion of those registered signed up seven months ago and are still waiting.
Only 53% of Plymouth residents are thought to be using dental services – a two percent drop from last year – due at least in part to the potential cost of treatment. Those waiting to be allocated a dentist are being encouraged to ring around their practices to see if any spaces have become available, as it has been suggested that city centre offices are more inclined to take on new patients if they are contacted directly. In the NHS Plymouth dental report, Vikki Johnson says; ‘Whilst allocation of people is sporadic and not easily predictable, we continually talk with practices persuading them to take, usually, several hundred people as their capacity allows and the number is gradually reducing.’
Furthermore, the report showed that only 50% of people who were given a spot with a surgery had taken advantage of it, Ms Johnson commented that this makes it even harder to allocate spaces and could impact further on waiting times. She added ‘NHS Plymouth strongly encourages any patient who is seeking an NHS dentist to contact practices directly. But it is generally perceived to be a mixture of the economic climate forcing patients to be more aware of their spending, the deferments of check-ups, and resultant under-delivery of targeted activity.’