Sheffield’s dental crisis causes waitlists of up to two years

People in Sheffield who do not have access to a regular dentist can find themselves waiting up to two years for an appointment.

At yesterday’s meeting of Sheffield Council’s healthier communities and adult social care scrutiny committee, Lucy Davies, chief officer for Healthwatch Sheffield, revealed the findings of their latest report. She said  that although dental practices in Sheffield are running at 85 per cent capacity of pre-pandemic services, many patients are still unable to access care they require.

Only 20 per cent of Sheffield’s 66 dental practices are adding people to their waitlists which are between 18 to 24 months.

Healthwatch Sheffield found that one practice had a waitlist of 700 people as of December 2021, with only two being taken off the list over the course of two months.

The central government currently invests £50m in NHS dental services within the North East of England and Yorkshire.

The initiative hopes to increase dental appointment availability for both examinations and treatment, despite a shortage of dentists in the region.

Many children born during the pandemic are still unable to gain access to a dentist, with parents being urged to switch from NHS services to private healthcare.

Sarah Robertson, a consultant in dental public health, revealed at the scrutiny meeting today that 41 per cent of five-year-olds in Sheffield had suffered from one or more decayed teeth, the highest rate in Yorkshire.

Initiatives to assist schools and nurseries with oral education in deprived areas of Sheffield are underway but funding limits it becoming a comprehensive scheme.

Early years teaching staff receive training to be able to teach children early on the skill of brushing their teeth, many children are not fortunate enough to have their teeth brushed by parents or guardians or even own a toothbrush.

Within deprived areas of Sheffield, a link between limited water availability and poor water quality with tooth decay was found.

Urgent care patients still are prioritised on waiting lists but those who do not meet the threshold are unable to access routine care.

It is unknown when Sheffield’s dental services will be running at 100 per cent capacity.

Shoppers in the city centre shared their views on dentistry in Sheffield.

Anthony Murphy, 72, from Walkley said: “You can’t get appointments it’s shocking.

“You couldn’t get them before and now it’s worse.”

Written by Amelia Elder

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