Hundreds of locals in Bath are ending up in A&E with tooth decay because they cannot get an NHS dentist, new research has suggested.Nearly 260 people with the disease were treated in emergency departments at Royal United Hospitals Bath last year, speaking to the “disturbing decline” of NHS dentistry, according to Mayor Dan Norris. In 2022-23, 200 were seen with a dental abscess, caused by decay, and 55 with dental caries.
Some 4.75 million people were denied an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years, owing to a lack of availability or capacity for new patients at their chosen practice.
Bath is a 'dentistry desert', research has shown.
Mayor Norris is urging ministers to adopt Labour’s plan to provide an extra 700,000 urgent dentists appointments and reform the NHS dental contract, as part of a package of measures to rescue NHS dentistry funded by scrapping the non-dom tax status.
He said: “The severe dentist shortage is a terrible situation for local people waiting in pain, bad for our already stretched hospitals and has knock on effects across our economy as people take days off sick.
"Time and again people tell me they just can’t get an NHS dentist. It’s simply impossible. I fear the way the Tories have run down NHS dentistry points to what they want to do to our NHS.
“Ministers must urgently fix this crisis, including addressing the lack of dentists and other dentistry healthcare staff, and do what was promised a decade ago and sort out the broken NHS contract system once and for all."If that means copying Labour’s plans then I’d be delighted.”