'Horror story' of hundreds of dental patients ending up at A&E

Sarah Champion MPSarah Champion MP
Sarah Champion MP
NEARLY 400 people ended up at A&E in Rotherham last year due to dental decay after they were unable to get an NHS dentist appointment, according to figures released by an MP.

Research by Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, has revealed 390 people attended A&E in Rotherham in 2022/23.

Of those, 335 patients were seen in A&E with a dental abscess, caused by tooth decay, and 55 with dental caries or cavities.

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Labour’s analysis of patient survey data suggests that 4.75 million people across England were denied an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years.

Earlier this year the Advertiser reported on the ordeal facing David Creamer (62) who, after discovering his old surgery had closed, was unable to register with another NHS dentist despite being in pain after his full top dental crown fell out.

Ms Champion said: “I’ve heard horror stories from my constituents about the long-term pain they have suffered because they were unable to see an NHS dentist.

“I’m so grateful to the Rotherham Advertiser for continually raising this.

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“It is appalling that so many patients are finding impossible to book a standard appointment.

“By failing to ensure people can access regular dental check-ups, the government have caused a situation where more patients are ending up requiring emergency care instead.”

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, said: “At Rotherham NHS Trust, patents are being forced into A&E with tooth decay, as they have nowhere else to turn.

“Labour will rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis, so people can get an appointment when they need one. We will provide 700,000 more appointments a year to those in the most urgent need and recruit more dentists to areas with the worst shortages.”

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Anthony Fitzgerald, NHS South Yorkshire executive lead for primary care, said: “We are aware that a number of people are experiencing difficulties accessing dental services in Rotherham.

“Similar to the rest of the country, all of our region’s dental practices are extremely busy and have been addressing a backlog since the pandemic which has unfortunately led to some patients having to wait longer to see an NHS dentist.

“I want to reassure people that practices are working hard to make as many NHS appointments available as possible to meet the high levels of demand.

“The NHS South Yorkshire dental commissioning team is working closely with practices to address the issues that have been raised.

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“The focus is to identify solutions to the workforce recruitment and retention pressures in dental services which are impacting practices’ ability to see NHS patients.

“Work is also underway to increase capacity and improve access to local dental services.

“If a patient is in pain we would advise them to contact NHS111 and following a telephone triage an appointment will be offered if it is deemed clinically appropriate.”

He added: “In terms of routine dental care, although we realise that this is frustrating, we would advise people to continue contacting local dental practices and ask to be added to their waiting list for a regular appointment.”