'Nearest dental practice taking on NHS patients is 70 miles away,' says elderly King's Lynn man in need of appointment
A Lynn man in need of new dentures says the nearest NHS dental practice which can take him on as a patient is over 70 miles away.
Alan Lowes, 74, has been trying to find a practice since August, but has had no luck so far, apart from one in Suffolk.
Mr Lowes said: “There’s no dentists in the King’s Lynn area taking on NHS patients.”
“As far as I can gather, the nearest one taking on NHS clients is in Lowestoft,” Mr Lowes added.
“It’s a disgrace.”
He said, since August, he has visited practices in person and checked online to see if they have spaces, but he has either been told they are not taking on new patients because they are full or because there is a lack of staff.
One practice told him they had just lost three dentists.
Mr Lowes, who has been a resident in Lynn since 1985, had been registered with a practice previously but he was taken off the list as he had not visited for two years.
But, he said, he has not experienced difficulties in getting an appointment until recently.
“The last time I went to the dentist I needed a tooth extracted and it was no problem at all,” Mr Lowes added.
“If you haven’t been back for two years then they just take you off the list.
“For young people, if you get severe tooth ache there’s nothing you can do.”
It comes after the British Dental Association (BDA) labelled dental provision in West Norfolk “a scandal” in November.
At the time, the association called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to act on the emerging crisis in the East of England.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the British Dental Association’s chairman of General Dental Practice said: “It’s a scandal that patients in Kings Lynn are now facing over 60-mile journeys to access NHS care.
“This is a crisis is made in Westminster. Ministers have chosen to fund care for little over half the population, while dentists work to a contract that puts government targets ahead of patient care.
“The result is practices are struggling to fill vacancies, and residents are waiting longer or travelling further for an appointment.
“If Matt Hancock is serious about putting prevention at the heart of NHS strategy he needs to act on a crisis brewing in his own backyard, and ensure families who want NHS dentistry can access it.”
In the same month, we also asked readers of the Lynn News to vote in an online poll about NHS dental services in the area.
An overwhelming majority of 89 per cent of the 135 respondents said they were struggling to access an NHS dentist locally, with seven per cent saying they were not struggling but know friends and family who were, and four per cent who said the dental service seemed fine locally.
For more about services near you, visit www.nhs.uk.