Survey finds less than one in six Havering dentists are accepting NHS patients

Only four dental practices in Havering out of 27 who were surveyed are accepting new NHS patients. P

Only four dental practices in Havering out of 27 who were surveyed are accepting new NHS patients. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA - Credit: PA

Less than a sixth of Havering dentists that answered a consumer group survey said they were accepting NHS patients.

The figure comes from a questionnaire undertaken by Healthwatch Havering, which it carried out in response to “many reports of residents having difficulty in obtaining dental treatment during the pandemic”.

It submitted questions in October to all of the borough’s 45 registered practices, with 27 responding.

Only four of those said they were accepting NHS patients, with 18 accepting private patients and seven not accepting new patients.

When quizzed by Healthwatch Havering on when they expected to accept new patients, 13 said they “do not anticipate” taking on new NHS patients.

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The Healthwatch Havering report said: “It is worrying that fewer than 10 per cent of dental practices in Havering seem willing to accept new NHS patients at present.

“Although the number of dentists offering NHS services has been falling nationally for several years, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has brought the lack of NHS cover to the fore.

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“Those patients who had not accessed dental treatment for some time suddenly found themselves unable to do so and with little, if any, choice as to where they could do so when it became available.”

It went on to say that the main reason cited for dentists not wanting to take on NHS patients was that they feel the NHS dentistry contract was not worth their while in signing up to.

“Given the importance of good dental health to an individual’s wellbeing, it is to be hoped that NHS England will find a way to devise an improved contract offer to incentivise more dentists to offer NHS dentistry.”

When contacted for a response, NHS England referred the Recorder to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We want dentists to be incentivised to prevent as well as treat oral health problems.

“A new system is being trialled which focuses more closely on helping dentists promote oral health and better self-care.

“Alongside NHS England, we will be carefully considering the results of this along with the immediate work to recover from the impact of Covid-19.”

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