Pain of 2.5 year dentist wait

Photo by Yusuf Belek on UnsplashPhoto by Yusuf Belek on Unsplash
Photo by Yusuf Belek on Unsplash
PATIENTS not registered with a practice face a two-and-a-half year wait to see a Rotherham dentist, a report has found.

Staff shortages were cited as the main reason for surgeries not taking on new patients in research from Healthwatch Rotherham.

The watchdog contacted 18 surgeries — 16 of which were not taking on NHS patients at all and others had waiting times of up to two-and-a-half years.

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Only one practice was correctly listed on the NHS “find a dentist” online tool — with seven wrongly saying they were accepting new patients when they were not.

A public survey which attracted 279 respondents found that complaints about dentists had increased since the beginning of the pandemic. Only 16 per cent of people said they had managed to get an appointment within three months.

One person said they had lost a filling in August causing them “discomfort and pain” but was advised it was “not serious enough to receive urgent treatment”.

They said they had tried to register with a dentist for months with no success, adding: “I went to emergency clinics three times after I called 111 but I did not receive any kind of service, and for me it has become impossible to continue with toothache all day and all night.

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“I have been trying to find a dentist I can get to for over two years. I did find one over three hours away but was taken off their books after I was late due to a bus being late.”

Another respondent said a dentist surgery suggested they “bought a DIY filling kit” after they suffered a broken tooth, and was told there was a two-year waiting list to see a dentist.

Healthwatch’s report made a number of recommendations based on their findings, including advising surgeries to update their “find a dentist” page on a regular basis, and to highlight to patients that you do not need to actually register to obtain an appointment, and that you can attend a dentist outside of Rotherham.

The report concluded: “The real issue lies with those who are not registered with a dentist in Rotherham.

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“Only two dental practices in Rotherham confirmed they were accepting new patients, and one of those still had a five-month waiting list.

“Other dentists were not accepting new patients at all, with some having waiting lists as long as two-and-a-half years. This is leaving patients in pain, frustrated and distressed.

“Many of the dentists listed have outdated and inaccurate information, which results in people spending hours ringing around trying to find a dentist with no success.”

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