Since the start of the Covid pandemic, NHS services have come under increasing pressure. Many people find it hard to get a GP appointment, and numbers on NHS waiting lists are at record levels. Healthwatch surveyed local people to find if they could get the dental care they needed.
- More than 1 in 5 people were looking for an NHS dentist, but had to register as a private patient instead.
- More than 1 in 4 people had to wait more than a month when trying to book a routine appointment
- More than 1 patient in 8 was unable to book an emergency appointment.
Some people found their dentist helpful and had no problem arranging for the dentist to see them. However, many found that local dentists aren’t accepting new patients, with one patient commenting that “I have to take annual leave and spend a 4 hour round trip to visit a dentist on the other side of London.” Several parents reported that they could not get a dentist to see their children. Other patients said they could only find a dentist if they went private, but that they couldn’t afford this.
Barbara Mcintosh, Chair of Healthwatch Sutton, commented,
“These are alarming findings. People can’t access basic care. We are even hearing that people can’t get help with emergencies such as a broken tooth or an abscess. All this means pain and worry for patients – and if problems aren’t dealt with promptly, that can cause complications which take more time and money to deal with later.”
Healthwatch Sutton will work with local NHS staff to develop recommendations based on the report’s findings.