NHS dentist shortage sees patients going to A&E with toothache 'as they have nowhere else to turn to'

A shortage of NHS dentists is being blamed for scores of Blackpool residents needing to attend A&E to get help with bad toothache.
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Figures show 90 people went to A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital (BVH) last year due to dental decay.

The data, revealed by research of NHS figures by the Labour Party, shows in 2022/23 70 patients were seen in the emergency department at BVH with a dental abscess caused by tooth decay, and 20 with dental cavities.

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Across the country last year, 67,000 patients attended emergency departments with tooth decay.

Many people have been forced to visit A&E due to sore teethMany people have been forced to visit A&E due to sore teeth
Many people have been forced to visit A&E due to sore teeth

Labour has pledged it will recruit more dentists as part of measures to provide better access to dental appointments, if it gets into power.

Chris Webb, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Blackpool South, said: “Millions of people are being denied an appointment with an NHS dentist when they need it.

“At Blackpool Victoria Hospital patients are being forced into A&E with tooth decay, as they have nowhere else to turn.

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“Labour will rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis, so people can get an appointment when they need one.

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“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.”

NHS Dental Activity for adults in Blackpool shows 35 per cent of adults in the town received NHS dental care in the 24 months to June 2022, compared to just over 37 per cent nationally. (From the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Blackpool)

Almost a quarter (24.4 per cent) of activity was for complex and urgent treatment.

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Figures also show 31 per cent of five-year-olds were suffering dental decay (2021/22) compared to nearly 24 per cent nationally.

Labour has pledged to invest £111m a year in improvements which include funding NHS dental practices to provide 700,000 more urgent appointments.

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Incentives would be provided to encourage NHS dentists in areas most in need, and supervised toothbrushing in schools would be introduced for three to five-year- olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay.

The Government says it is investing £3bn into delivering NHS dentistry with reforms including increasing the amount of money practices receive for high-need patients.

Dental practices must also update the NHS website at least every 90 days, so patients can see which practices are accepting new patients.