Dentists expect 'huge rush' as 3,000 new NHS appointments go up for grabs in West Yorkshire

Two dental practices in Leeds are bucking the national trend by offering NHS appointments to 3,000 new patients, with the most in need prioritised.

According to data published in 2022 almost nine in 10 NHS dental practices are now unable to accept new adult patients for treatment under the health services.

Temple Practice in Leeds and West Park Dental in Brighouse say they are expecting a “huge rush” when they launch on April 1.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However there won’t be a repeat of the scenes seen in Bristol in February when hundreds of patients queued to register at one newly-opened dental practice as people can register on the practices’ websites.

File photo dated 15/09/08 of a dentist at work.File photo dated 15/09/08 of a dentist at work.
File photo dated 15/09/08 of a dentist at work.

Owner Sophia Bow says most of her 25 clinicians do NHS work on top of their private work.

They have a support team “which takes care of everything so they can focus purely on the dentistry”, avoiding the burn-out faced by some dentists in small practices.

She said: "We have a large team and the way we manage it is slightly different which is why we can increase capacity – although there isn’t extra funding from the NHS.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It’s about finding ways of being able to do it within the contract so we can see more patients than you would normally see.

"We use therapists who are as qualified in their field as dentists. A lot of the work is preventative.

"We are trying to focus on vulnerable people, people who maybe can’t afford care or children or the elderly.”

Mrs Bow warned that people who failed to turn up at appointments would be taken off the NHS list: “This is not about one-off care. This is about continuing care. Therefore, we expect patients to attend their appointments when requested.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

MPs are expected next week to press Health Minister Andrea Leadsom on the government’s recovery plan for NHS dental services and whether it will be sufficient to end a crisis of access for patients.

Under the £200m plan dentists will be offered cash to accept new patients and given £20,000 “golden hellos” to work in under-served communities.

An advice programme aimed at new parents, and so-called “dental vans”, would also be rolled out.

However the British Dentistry Association (BDA) said it would do nothing to halt the exodus from the workforce or offer hope to millions struggling to access care.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee Shawn Charlwood is among witnesses appearing before the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart has written to the Minister to request a dental van visit Withernsea, saying it is “urgently” needed.

A study published by the Association of Dental Groups found that the East Riding is one of 20 emerging "dental deserts” with only 32 NHS dentists per 100,000 people. Withernsea already gets visits from a mobile breast screening unit and recently 350 past and current smokers were given a free CT scan aboard a mobile unit parked outside the town’s leisure centre.

Related topics: