Multiple complaints have been issued to Healthwatch Sheffield from NHS dental patients who are waiting 18 to 24 months to see an NHS dentist.
During the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care and Scrutiny Policy Development Committee on Wednesday, Healthwatch Sheffield said they are worried that NHS versus private dental care could have an ongoing impact on existing health inequalities.
Lucy Davies, Chief Officer at Healthwatch Sheffield, said: “The striking thing for us is the consistency of what we have been hearing. Every week we get feedback on dentistry and people are coming to us with the same issues weekly.
“The stand out thing is the issue of equity that arises with the situation of NHS care versus private care.
“We are getting a lot of people telling us that when they have sought out NHS care they have instead been offered private care or had to wait a very long time for it on the NHS.”
Emma Wilson, Head of Co-Commissioning for Yorkshire and Humber NHS England, said: “All of our NHS dentists should be offering urgent treatment to patients. Where we are advised that a practice has only offered private treatments to a patient when they have an urgent need, we will pick that up.”
According to Healthwatch Sheffield, people have told them that their local dental practice were unable to see them as an NHS patient at all, but said that they could pay for private care and be seen more quickly.
Margaret Naylor, Chair of South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Local Dental Network, said: “Many practices are mixed, they are not completely NHS nor completely private.
“You have so many sessions for your NHS work and when they are full you are using your private sessions and that is one of the reasons why people have been offered private care.
“If there was more money from the commissioners then practices would be able to see more NHS patients, but I am a dentist myself so I see that there is a limit to the magic money tree.”