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“Broken NHS dental system” adding to A&E strain

LONDON’S struggling A&E departments are being jammed with thousands of people complaining of toothache, new figures have revealed.

Around 5,500 attended the capital’s accident and emergency units for dental-related issues between April 2021 and April 2022. 

Dr Theo Sioutis, specialist dental director at London-based MyHealthcare Clinic, which obtained the data via a Freedom of Information request, said: “Hospital A&E departments across the country are under huge strain. The broken NHS dental system is only adding to this worrying situation.

“Millions of Brits are unable to access dental care on the NHS due to a lack of provision, meaning some may be forced to ignore problems they would otherwise address.

“A perfect storm”

“This is creating a perfect storm where these issues are getting worse, and leaving people suffering toothache and other dental-related pain to seek help in their local A&E departments.”

The figures, collected from the individual London health trusts, showed 5,469 people attended 13 A&E departments across the capital for dental-related issues in the 12 months up to April this year.

That was an increase on the 4,945 who showed up between April 2020 and April 2021.

As well as toothache, the complaints also included abscesses, dental fractures and loose teeth. 

Dr Sioutis added: “There are some dental problems that are more serious than others but A&E is for emergency, life and death situations, not minor issues.

“I imagine most people feel they have no other option if they have been unable to see an NHS dentist. Sometimes a dental issue which starts off small can develop into something more serious if it has been left untreated for a long time.”

The state of NHS dentistry has been a hot topic for a number of years, with the Covid pandemic exacerbating existing struggles. 

Service on its last legs

Earlier this year Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, warned: “What we’re seeing isn’t a recovery, but a service on its last legs.

“NHS dentistry is lightyears away from where it needs to be. Unless ministers step up and deliver much-needed reform and decent funding, this will remain the new normal.”

His urgent call to arms came as research showed just a third of adults in England saw a dentist in a two-year period between March 2020 and March 2022. 

Dr Sioutis continued: “We are seeing an influx of patients who are looking to go private because of the NHS backlog. 

MyHealthcare Clinic is a London-based doctor-led healthcare business providing personalised private medical, dental and specialist medical care all under one roof. 

“Many of these people have been in pain for months and are simply unable to wait any longer.”

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