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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

NHS dentistry in Dorset

Healthwatch Dorset, the local health and social care advocate, has released a report on the challenges faced by residents in accessing NHS dental care in Dorset. The report highlights the absence of NHS dentists accepting new adult patients in the county and the increasing trend of dentists only accepting private-paying patients.

Healthwatch Dorset surveyed 95 dental practices listed on the NHS website. Out of the 78 practices that responded, two were no longer operating.

None of the remaining practices were accepting new NHS adult patients, 17 only treated private patients, and 18 accepted new NHS patients who are children. Seven practices welcomed patients with additional needs, and 23 practices had waiting lists, with half exceeding 12 months.

The report emphasises the negative impact of limited access to routine and urgent dental care on local residents' health and well-being. Healthwatch Dorset received numerous complaints from individuals experiencing ongoing pain and unresolved dental issues due to inability to access treatment through NHS dentists or emergency dental hubs.

The report includes personal anecdotes and feedback from locals, shedding light on the state of dentistry in Dorset. Healthwatch Dorset supports Healthwatch England's call for swift and substantial reforms in dental commissioning and provision at both national and local levels. They aim to ensure that people are not excluded from dental services due to lack of local options or financial constraints. Healthwatch Dorset also advocates for improved information and communication regarding dental care.

Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager, said: "We are working with NHS Dorset to help inform their plans for improving access to NHS Dentistry and oral health across Dorset when they take over responsibility for commissioning local dental services in April. We’re also talking to local dental staff, public health colleagues, schools, health visitors working on oral health programmes, the local voluntary sector, community groups and local people to build a greater understanding of the issues. To share your story with us please get in touch at"
David Freeman, Chief Commissioning Officer, NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board, said that from 1 April "we will have a much greater opportunity to work with local people, dentists and other specialists in our area to develop new and different ways of working. We’ve started this work - from helping children and families with good dental hygiene to designing extra services to meet more complex dental needs, we are already developing plans for improvements over the coming year.
"NHS Dorset will be working closely with the existing dental regional team and dental clinical networks, who have developed the South West Dental Reform Programme. Recent developments that have been put in place in Dorset include a child-friendly dental pilot practice in the Wareham area, an additional 100 urgent care appointments every week across the county and a stabilisation programme with initially 30 appointments every week for people who do not have a regular dentist.
"We are grateful to Healthwatch Dorset for shining a light on these important issues and in a way that brings home the real impact on people's lives. It is a vital report that demands our attention and we will use it alongside our new responsibilities to start the journey of improvements that we urgently need to see."

The full report can be found on the Healthwatch Dorset website. It follows on from Healthwatch Dorset’s previous report a year ago, Accessing dental care in Dorset, looking at what dental care is available and how people are affected by a lack of access to treatment.

This news story has been produced by Chesil Radio's News Team, for more information please visit:

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