As much as people might complain about visiting the dentist, it is a vital service that most people would agree is an essential for them. However, if they want to get a checkup on the NHS, they might be out of luck. A new survey indicates that places at these practices are incredibly scarce.
Healthwatch, a national organisation formed to improve health and social care services across England, has been surveying patients and checking up on practices. What it found is fairly troubling for dentistry as a profession.
According to the organisation, in some areas only 20 per cent of NHS dental surgeries are accepting new patients at all. Yorkshire and Humberside is the best example of this, as 80 per cent of practices in the region are completely full, with no room for anyone to register with them.
This is not the same across the entire country, but overall fewer than half of all practices have the space to accept new patients. “We hear a lot in the news about people struggling to access their GPs but it would seem getting an appointment with an NHS dentist is even more frustrating,” said Anna Bradley, Healthwatch England’s chair.
“Patients are constantly being fed confusing and inaccurate information about who is and isn’t currently offering NHS treatment, and are feeling like they have to opt for costly private treatments such as hygienist appointments so that they don’t get struck off the books,” she added. “It’s simply not acceptable.”
While a lot of people would prefer to visit an NHS dentist, this might end up actually being good news for private practices. With good customer service and reasonable prices, they might be able to win around the people that feel left out and let down by the NHS.
A good option for these surgeries would be to use high-quality dental marketing to attract frustrated NHS patients to their practice. This would also free up room in NHS practices for those who are in desperate need.