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NHS dental crisis: South Holland is second worst spot in Midlands

Lincolnshire is the worst place in the country for prospective patients trying and failing to get an NHS dental appointment.

Patients served by South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which includes Spalding and Holbeach, are in the second worst spot in the Midlands.

The British Dental Association (BDA) revealed more than 7,729 new patients in this area tried and failed to secure an appointment - equal to a 46 per cent failure rate.

Only South West Lincolnshire CCG, which serves Grantham and Sleaford, had a higher failure rate - a massive 62 per cent, making it the worst in the country and the Midlands.

The BDA blames the Government for failing to make a break from the discredited 2006 NHS contract system, which sets quotas on patient numbers.

British Dental Association vice chairman Eddie Crouch. (7068903)
British Dental Association vice chairman Eddie Crouch. (7068903)

It says dentists are penalised if they don't hit targets for activity but can't treat additional patients even if they have the capacity.

BDA vice chairman Eddie Crouch says: "Patients in Spalding are seeing the results of a crisis made in Westminster.

"Underfunding and a failed contract have fuelled severe recruitment and retention problems, and left NHS services facing an uncertain future.

"Lincolnshire is now officially the worst place in England for patients trying to find an NHS dentist. But these problems are now hitting every region and have left a million patients without the care they need.

"High Street dentistry is on the brink, and it's the patients who need us most who risk losing out.

"These aren't just patients seeking a regular check-up. They are often people in pain, left without the care they need."

The BDA says the crisis is deepening because nearly three in five practitioners plan to scale down or quit NHS work in the next three to five years.

While patients locally are in the second worst spot in the Midlands, a practice in 11th worst spot - Lincolnshire East CCG, which serves Boston and Skegness, has been helping out.

Boston Dental Centre, in Saundergate Lane, Wyberton, has seen around 100 South Holland patients register since we revealed two weeks ago that it was prepared to help ease the crisis here.

Penny Kime, from the centre, said this week: "We are very happy to see patients from wherever if they are happy to travel to us."

The firm is still taking NHS registrations on 01205 400000.

An NHS spokesman said: "NHS England recognises that it can be difficult to access a dentist in some parts of Lincolnshire because there are not currently enough qualified dentists to deliver NHS dental services in the area.

"We are working hard to address this problem and two new practices have opened earlier this year in Sleaford and Lincoln which have been commissioned by NHS England.

"We are discussing with relevant local clinical and stakeholder groups what other options there are for the provision of dental services, and the recruitment and retention of qualified dentists to deliver NHS dental services.

"This will enable us to ensure the longer term provision of dental services to meet the needs of residents in Lincolnshire.

"If a resident in Lincolnshire does need urgent dental treatment they should call NHS 111 and they will be signposted to the closest appropriate practice to where they live."

* What do you think? Email our editor on jeremy.ransome@iliffepublishing.co.uk


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