A top A&E doctor at Ipswich Hospital says he is regularly treating patients who have overdosed on painkillers because they have toothache and can’t see a dentist.
David Hartin, who was previously the clinical lead for emergency medicine at Ipswich Hospital until 2016, said he saw “multiple dental patients every day”, adding that he treated “plenty of patients” who have overdosed on ibuprofen or paracetamol because of the pain they were in.
Dr Hartin made the comments on Twitter after Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, suggested that patients should not be attending A&E with dental problems on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Dr Hartin concluded his tweet with the hashtag “NHS Collapse”.
This summer, data from the British Dental Association estimated that from April 2020 to April 2022, more than one million NHS appointments were lost across Suffolk. This includes appointments for over 190,000 children.
And more recently figures analysed by the Local Government Association showed that Mid Suffolk has just 0.067 dentists per 1,000 people – meaning it’s the fourth-worst-served district in England.
Steve Marsling, from Toothless in Suffolk, said: “This intolerable situation cannot be allowed to continue.
“Every day the dental crisis continues to grow and people in need have nowhere to turn.
“What will it take to persuade the government that it is their responsibility to provide NHS dental care?
“The people of Suffolk deserve better.”
A spokesman for NHS England said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone in Suffolk can access high-quality dental care, and are working closely with dental providers to improve access to services in the area, including inviting NHS contract holders to take on additional activity.
“Urgent and emergency dental care is available for anyone who needs it, and people should continue to use the NHS 111 service for advice on where to go.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:“We are committed to improving patients’ access to NHS dental care, including by training and recruiting more dentists. The number of dentists practising in the NHS increased by over 500 last year and we are continuing work to improve access to dental care for all NHS patients – backed by more than £3 billion annually.
“We have already started to make changes to the dental contract to boost access, including paying dentists more for complex work and enabling those with capacity to treat more patients, with further improvements to come.”