'Terrible service' - Region's MPs call for action over escalating dental crisis

File photo dated 19/05/11 of a dentist at work. People are being told to wait until 2024 for dentist

People are being told to wait until 2024 for dentist appointments while others are being removed from their practice lists for not making appointments sooner,. - Credit: PA

Some of the region's MPs are calling on government to take action over the dental care crisis which has worsened throughout the pandemic.

It comes after a report from Healthwatch England revealed that some dental patients with the NHS are being put on a three-year waiting list.

As many as 47 per cent of dental surgeons are likely to change career or seek early retirement in the next 12 months should current Covid restrictions remain in place, according to the British Dental Association (BDA).

clive lewis

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate and addressed the dental care crisis. - Credit: Anthony Kelly

MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis spoke out on Tuesday evening in a Westminster Hall debate on Oral Health and Dentistry in England.

He said: "Practices need support to enable them to open safely and see more patients.  

"Longer-term, we need dentistry and oral health services to be provided equitably.

"The government has an opportunity in the upcoming Health and Social Care Bill to do just that."

peter aldous

Peter Aldous MP for Waveney, is calling on government to bring about changes and encourage reform of the NHS contract. - Credit: Peter Aldous

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Waveney MP Peter Aldous added: “There has been an underlying problem with dentistry in the Lowestoft and Waveney area for a long time.

“Practices have difficulty recruiting and retaining dentists, this situation has been exacerbated by a lack of funding with net government spending on general practice reduced by a third over the past decade.

“It has reached crisis point, partly due to Covid, but due to two dental practice closures in Lowestoft.

"I propose high capacity ventilators so that dentists can reopen and in the long-term getting more training places in the area like a dentist school nearby in Norwich and replacement of the current NHS contract by April 2022."

duncan baker

Duncan Baker called for incentives to encourage more people to seek a dentistry career in Norfolk. - Credit: Duncan Baker

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker echoed these views saying: "The problems with dentistry in north Norfolk are terrible and there is a huge discrepancy between the private and public sector.

"We must encourage more people to join this profession in an area where it is hard to recruit people."

jo churchill

Jo Churchill, Minister for Health and Social Care. - Credit: Archant

Jo Churchill, Health and Social Care Minister, said: "The NHS is charged with commissioning based on need which it is doing and our focus will be on providing urgent health care for those in the east who are in need.

"This is a complex area and I am meeting with the chair of Healthwatch England tomorrow about a sustainable long-term approach with access to and retention in dentistry."