Shortage of dentists in the South West of England forces patients to do DIY treatments | Dentists

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Many patients in the South West of England are suffering from toothache because they cannot enroll in NHS care, with some so desperate they even seek DIY treatment, it said. he emerged.

The charity Healthwatch in Somerset has reported that it is almost impossible for a new patient to register with an NHS dentist in the county, leading to adults and children living in agony , self-medicate, or travel outside the region for help.

Cases listed in her books include a woman who asked her husband to have an abscess drilled because she was in excruciating pain and could not find NHS treatment. “I was in tears of pain and asked my husband to pop the abscess with a needle and then had a mouth wash with warm water and salt,” he said. she declared.

A Bridgwater man, who asked not to be named, said he recently had a big filler fall. He was not registered with an NHS dentist and was unable to find one. “I went to the pharmacist and they gave me a product called Dentemp. The clue is in the name, but I’ve been using it for six weeks now and will continue until the pain gets too bad.

Alan Hardcastle: ‘If I have to go private it has a huge impact on our household income, but I might have to bite the bullet.’

Alan Hardcastle, 51, from Glastonbury, was devastated when told he and his 11-year-old son had been removed from his NHS dentist’s register because they had not had an appointment since before the pandemic.

The college professor has a toothache and struggles to find another dentist. “I’ve phoned 14 so far in Glastonbury, Street and Bridgwater. One of them says he can take my son, but nobody wants to take me. I can only eat from one side of my mouth. If I have to go private, it has a huge impact on our household income, but I might have to bite the bullet.

An NHS worker has been suffering from toothache for three days. “I spent an entire day trying to find a dentist and I’m still in agony,” they said. “I can’t believe no dentist will see me. My NHS dentist removed me from his register after 20 years of being faithful. I was told that there were not enough dentists in the office right now. I work for £10.18 an hour and can’t afford private rates.

A mature student said she was in pain after having a root canal. She tried to register with 10 NHS practices in and around Taunton and was told none were accepting patients. A practice told him to check in Devon.

A person who said her family was taken off her dentist’s register during the Covid lockdown said she rang “countless” surgeries because her daughter had an abscess. They were worried their daughter might have sepsis and the blood tests she needed would be delayed.

Dental experts said they were not surprised by the situation in Somerset.

Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said the impact of factors such as Brexit and coronavirus in addition to dentists’ dissatisfaction with NHS contracts and too few new trained dentists had resulted in a shortage of places in NHS surgeries. “We had a perfect storm,” he said.

He said he was aware of people doing their own dentistry, including using temporary fillings and even extracting bad teeth. “We need more dentists,” he said. Carter criticized NHS England for not accepting there was a problem in Somerset. “They hide their heads in the sand,” he said.

Eddie Crouch, the chairman of the British Dental Association, said that even before the pandemic people were driving 50 miles back and forth in Somerset to find an NHS dentist and more and more practitioners were leaving for a private practice or only worked part-time in the NHS.

NHS England insisted there were dental appointments to be found in Somerset – but did not provide figures on the number of surgeries accepting new NHS patients, saying the decision was up to the individual offices.

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement South West said: “Over 550 additional urgent care appointments are available each month in Somerset to ensure those in urgent clinical need can access treatment. , and that community and special care services continue to treat patients. We are in the process of getting additional dental services in the southwest.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have given the NHS £50million to fund up to 350,000 additional dental appointments and we are increasing the workforce so that people can get the oral care they need.”

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