Hitchin dentist blames patients for lack of NHS appointments

Published:
8:45 AM May 18, 2022



Updated:
10:49 AM May 18, 2022

A disheartened dentist has said those missing regular dental check ups – and later requiring emergency care – are unwittingly contributing to a shortage of NHS appointments. 

There is a surge of people living in pain as the nation struggles to pay for dental care amid a dramatic drop in the number of NHS dentists in England last year. 

Healthwatch England revealed that after more than 2,000 dentists quit the NHS last year, “the shortage of NHS appointments has hit people on low incomes the hardest”. 





Sesh said: “You wouldn’t wait for three years to get your broadband renewed – you would do it as soon as it expires. So how is your oral health any different?”

– Credit: Courtesy of Sesh Rao

A Stotfold dentist believes that lack of accountability towards attending regular visits is further widening the health inequality. 

Stotfold Dental Clinic’s dental surgeon and practice owner, Sesh Rao, said: “It is harder for a clinician to accommodate someone who hasn’t visited the practice for four years and suddenly rings up and says ‘I’m in pain’.

Sesh says that the amount of patients complaining about not being able to have an emergency appointment is unfair “when patients don’t recognise oral health to be an important part of their life”.

“You are disheartened more than frustrated that you’re not able to offer them treatment that same day,” he said.

He believes people are treating dentists like doctors and only attending for emergency treatments rather than regular check-ups. 

Sesh said: “You wouldn’t wait for three years to get your broadband renewed – you would do it as soon as it expires. So how is your oral health any different?”


There is a surge of people living in pain as the nation struggles to pay for dental care.


There is a surge of people living in pain as the nation struggles to pay for dental care amid the mass culling of NHS dentists in England, last year.

– Credit: PA

Stotfold Dental Clinic is a mixed practice serving both NHS and private patients. 

A poll by Healthwatch England found that one in six people reported they felt pressured to pay privately when they booked their dental appointment. 

Speaking on NHS appointment shortages, Sesh advised: “If you can’t find an NHS dentist, you have to make an effort to go on a payment plan.


Healthwatch England found that people reported they felt pressured to pay privately when they booked their appointment. 


A poll by Healthwatch England found that One in six people reported they felt pressured to pay privately when they booked their dental appointment.

– Credit: Courtesy of Sesh Rao

“We want to help. Yes, we all want to make money but we also want to go home happy that we have done something good that day.”

Sesh insisted that patients need to work together with clinicians rather than blame them when they are unable to have appointments.

“It’s a partnership – you are as much responsible for your oral health as your clinician is towards you. It’s not something that you expect them to fix, only on occasions when you have problems.”

What are your experiences of trying to find an NHS dentist? Write, giving your full contact details, to whitney.jones@archant.co.uk

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