Scandal of NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ or wait in pain in Covid crisis

Say “Aah!” But the scream is more likely to be from financial pain, or the pain of waiting for an appointment that disappears ever-further into the future.

The Canary is absolutely right to draw attention to this scandal. Mrs Mike tried to make an emergency appointment last month and the earliest she could get was the end of March.

Still, it could be worse…

Some NHS dental patients … face two-year waits for appointments, a watchdog has warned.

I haven’t seen a dentist for more than two years, since the local NHS practice lost one of its practitioners. I was told my appointment would be delayed and a few months later I was quietly removed from the books.

The nearest practices that might have vacancies for NHS patients are 50 miles to the north or south.

Of course, we could go private. Have you seen how much that would cost?

Healthwatch England was contacted by one patient who was offered a procedure for £1,700 which was £60 on the NHS.

It seems that, even if we survive the Covid-19 pandemic, our teeth may not.

The advice people are being given echoes a satirical sketch from The Day Today, back in the 1990s, warning people against seeking treatment from backstreet dentists.

Compare that with this:

Another patient was told to use a nail file to deal with a broken tooth, and others were advised to “buy dental repair kits and treat themselves”.

This is the culmination of decades in which successive UK governments have neglected our dental health.

Profiteers have ensured that it is not worthwhile to run a dental practice on the NHS. It is far more lucrative to go private, and to hell with the teeth of people who can’t pay.

Oh, and of course it is not profitable to work in rural areas; the big bucks are in the cities so, while dentists might start out in small towns like mine in Mid Wales, they clear off to urban areas as soon as they can.

The Covid crisis has just brought these facts into sharp focus.

And what do you think will be done about it, once the virus has died down?

I’ll give you a clue: nothing.

As long as dentistry remains a gravy train, it will be denied to people outside the cities, who don’t have a ton of spare cash to throw around.

Or you could demand change now. You should – because even if you’re in a good position now, there’s no guarantee that you always will be.

Source: NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ if they want treatment | The Canary

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  1. M Pritchard February 9, 2021 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Same thing happened to me at presumably the same dental practice. They cancelled the appointment and I’m pretty sure they said they’d be in touch to reschedule, then when I finally did need an appointment they’d kicked me off the books because I hadn’t been there for so long. Now with a dentist 25 miles away.

    • Mike Sivier February 10, 2021 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      Mr Pritchard is local to This Writer’s own Mid Wales area.

  2. disabledgrandad February 9, 2021 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    This BS with dentists has been going on since the 1980’s yes I am old but nothing has changed dentists still take the Mickey to get away with it because Torys have private dental as I always say want to fix health care then make MP’s use the same service and magically watch it improve…

  3. 6033624 February 9, 2021 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard so much of this over the years but my experiences both in Lancashire and in various parts of Scotland are nothing like as described. Plenty of vacancies for NHS patients, appointments in a reasonable time and easy to change practise of you need to.

    Is this mismanagement of certain areas? Differences as to how devolved health issues are handled or just ‘luck’?

  4. Lynn Jenks February 10, 2021 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    I completely agree. I went to an NHS dentist with an abcessed tooth. I was told he could refer me to a private dentist, but it would cost £600. The other option? He gave me some tablets and told me to come back if it got any worse. It’s just got worse, and I’ve been offered an appointment in a week’s time, so I suppose I’m lucky. But what do I do if, again, the only way of getting treatment is to pay to go private? I still don’t have £600!

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