‘Shocking’ figures have prompted calls for more dentists in Worcestershire.
More than a third of adults in Worcestershire – 36.6 per cent – were unable to secure an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years.
However, the number is down from 48.2 per cent in the two years up to 2018.
The figures were compiled by the House of Commons Library on request of the Liberal Democrats and the party has launched a petition, demanding more be done to solve the dental crisis.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to increase funding to make NHS dentistry “more attractive”.
Liberal Democrat activist Jessie Jagger said: “We’ve reached a breaking point in this crisis.
“NHS dentist appointments are becoming harder to get than ever and some practices are shutting their doors to NHS patients altogether, but the government is missing in action.
“As the cost-of-living catastrophe continues to hit households hard, private dentistry is not a feasible alternative for the many people living in pain”.
Research undertaken by county councillor Dan Boatright into local practices found that the county has a shortage of qualified dentists with several vacancies going unfilled.
Additionally, he states that practices are paid less than other areas, resulting in more private appointments over “less attractive” NHS contracts.
Speaking earlier this year, councillor Boatright said: “Anyone who wants an NHS dentist should be able to access one.
“Like many residents, I have struggled to gain access to affordable dentistry, and it is becoming a bigger problem as the cost-of-living crisis bites and people are forced to cut back.
“Our dental health has a huge impact on our general physical health and people should not have to be making decisions that put their long-term health and wellbeing at risk.
“We are calling for an improvement in access to care so that everyone can get a dentist when they need one.”
More information can be found here.
Worcestershire County Council, Worcester City Council, and NHS England have all been contacted for a comment.