Norfolk and Waveney among top 5 'dental deserts' in England
- Credit: Archant, Debbie Littlewood, and PA.
People across Norfolk and Waveney have among the most limited access to an NHS dentist in England, a new report has revealed.
Figures obtained by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) name it as the fifth worst affected area with 38 dentists per 100,000 people.
The report reveals just 36pc of adults had seen a dentist in the last two years and a low percentage of children in the area had seen a dentist in the last 12 months, at 34.9pc.
It calls for an urgent need to "level up" dentistry with rural and coastal areas facing the biggest struggle to be seen by an NHS dentist and where recruitment is now "near impossible."
Brexit, Covid, and contract challenges were driving the crisis creating "dental deserts" with Norfolk and Waveney named among 20 most at-risk CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) out of 106 according to data.
A joint foreword to the report from Peter Aldous MP for Waveney and Neil Carmichael chair of the ADG said the situation was critical with poorer patients often paying the price.
Recruiting from overseas and setting up a new dental school in the East of England are among "six to fix" solutions being put forward.
The report says over 2,000 dentists have left the NHS in the last year, serving an estimated four million patients, and that in some areas there is "almost no chance" of being treated by an NHS dentist.
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Mr Carmichael said: “Dental deserts not only stretch across the whole of the East of England from East Yorkshire, through Lincolnshire and down to Norfolk but are now emerging in many other ‘red wall’ constituencies that the Government wishes to ‘level up’.
“Our fears of an exodus from NHS dentistry are proving to be founded and the number of NHS dentists working in England is now at the lowest level for a decade.”
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to reform of the recruitment and registration of overseas dentists – what needs to follow is NHS dental contract reform and investment in our future domestic workforce – only when this happens will we have a chance of tackling the oral health inequalities of England.”
'I haven't been able to eat properly'
Debbie Littlewood from Great Yarmouth has described her problems accessing an NHS dentist.
The 47 year old who lives on the town's seafront said she was struck from the books after missing an appointment in 2019 and since then she has struggled to see a dentist.
She said: "My bridge has broken and come loose and I have tried every dentist in Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Norwich.
"If I want to get it fixed I have to pay £75 for a consultation and more for the work and I do not have the money.
"I haven't been able to eat properly, I can only eat soft foods and have tried to fix it myself with a repair kit.
"I feel hopeless, fed up, and annoyed. Soon I will be left with three spikes like a vampire.
"It's just ridiculous. I do not know why it has got this bad. I just want to get it sorted."
England's ten most at risk "dental deserts"
North Lincolnshire CCG
North East Lincolnshire CCG
East Riding of Yorkshire CCG
Norfolk and Waveney CCG
North Staffordshire CCG
Stoke on Trent CCG