DENTAL surgeries in Salisbury no longer provide NHS treatments for new patients and this is likely to affect the most vulnerable or poorest in the area.

The Salisbury Journal contacted over 15 dentists in and around Salisbury without success and while surgeries were apologetic, some suggested seeking an NHS dentist in Southampton.

Most dental surgeries in Salisbury provide private treatments only, but some surgeries will continue to offer NHS treatments for existing patients.

Matthew Cowen 37, moved to Salisbury from Hertfordshire in July 2020.

He said: “My wife rang round all the NHS dentists but couldn’t find one to take us. We are just hoping to not have any major work needed and have brought electric toothbrushes for the children.

“We managed to register with My Dentist surgery in Endless Street but it’s semi-private, so we have only had one check-up each.”

Diane Tilley Thomas 65, who now lives in Upper Woodford was removed from the register at her NHS dentist in Amesbury during the covid period.

She said: “I needed a root filling but only managed to get a temporary filling at the emergency dentist in Salisbury. They wouldn’t give me a permanent filling.  

“My oncologist referred me as I have been on chemotherapy, but I can’t afford to go private. It is disgusting. My grandchildren can’t even get an NHS appointment and the 5-year-old has not been to a dentist at all.”

Salisbury Journal: Dentist chair Dentist chair

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, said: “Overstretched and underfunded, thousands of dentists have already left the NHS, but many more have begun severing their ties. This is how NHS dentistry will die, a lingering decline that unchecked will leave millions of patients with no options.

“This Government has ensured many dentists cannot see a future in this service. Without urgent reform and adequate funding there is little hope we can halt this exodus.”    

The NHS dental system has been deteriorating for a long time and there are several reasons for this including the pandemic and Brexit. But a core issue is the NHS dental services contract itself.

The BDA state that the system is unfit for purpose. The government has promised reform but there is no timeline for doing so or indication that the treasury will commit the necessary funds.

In place since 2006, the National Audit Office (NAO) uses a credit system which is activity based and pays for units of treatments. It does not pay for assessments or preventative treatments.

It places government-led targets before the needs of patients and sets a limit on the number of NHS treatments that can be provided in a year.

Statistics from the DBA reveals 71 per cent of dentists in the southwest reported they have already reduced their NHS commitment within the last twelve months or will be doing so.

48 per cent say they are likely to go private and only 36 per cent of dentists admit they can offer the kind of care needed and dental surgeries contacted stated there was a backlog of treatments following the pandemic.

It is likely that the situation for those needing NHS treatments is likely to get worse, not better.

In Salisbury, only emergency dental treatments are available at the Central Health clinic and people can ring NHS 111 to try to locate an NHS dentist, otherwise, private treatment will be the only option or individuals must suffer tooth pain.

A parliamentary debate took place yesterday to address the shortage of NHS dentists and the issue of patients being unable to get an NHS dental appointment.

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