04 Oct Jonathan Cartu Announces: More than 1,500 are on NHS dentist waiting list
There are no fewer than 1,540 patients on the waiting list for an NHS dentist.
And 60% of these have been on the waiting list for more than six months.
Figures have been released by the Department of Health and Social Care following a Freedom of Information request.
They show that 59% of the 1,540 patients on the list have waited between six and 12 months and 1% have waited longer than one year.
Almost 50% of patients have been added to the waiting list following the closure of dental practices in March this year because of coronavirus.
Having re-opened fully from July onwards, practices are still catching up on appointments for the patients who had their appointments cancelled during the closure period.
Interim DHSC chief executive Kathryn Magson explained there are a variety of reasons that patients waiting the longest have not yet been allocated.
These include those who were previously offered a place and for whatever reason did not accept the allocation.
Patients do have an option to specify which dental practice they wish to be allocated to and which they would not.
Ms Magson said: ’This can delay allocations if those practices requested are unable to take on new patients.’
In September last year, all NHS dental providers were asked to stop holding their own practice waiting lists for NHS patients and forward their lists onto Primary Care Services.
This was so patients could be allocated fairly with regard to the length of time they were waiting for allocation and to ensure the DHSC had the correct information with regard to patients waiting for an NHS placement.
This accounts for the spike in the numbers on the waiting list from towards the end of last year.
In April 2019 there were only two people on the NHS dental waiting list and this has dropped to one in September.
But then numbers started to climb with 69 added to the list in October, then 190 in December and 214 in January, peaking at 231 in February.
The number added to the list fell away in April before starting to climb again, with 173 added to the list in August and then 136 in September, taking the total to 1,540.
Ms Magson said the DHSC was hoping to improve access to NHS dental services.
She explained: ’Primary Care Services are due to begin negotiations with NHS dentists with regard to their contractual arrangements.
’One of the key elements within discussions will be with regard to access to NHS services with a view to allocating the waiting list in its entirety and improving access in the future.’