Dental patients cost the NHS £18 million per year, study suggests

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Patients who visit Accident and Emergency departments with dental issues are costing the NHS up to £18 million per year, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Newcastle University and the British Dental Association discovered that 135,000 people are visiting their local emergency department with dental problems each year. Experts claimed that doctors and nurses were forced to “pick up the pieces” as a result of government budget cuts and increased charges, which have made it increasingly difficult for people to afford dental care. In response, NHS England stated that access to dental services had improved in recent years.

Researchers from Newcastle University analysed data from hospitals over the last three years combined with research findings from the British Dental Association. They found that more than half of patients visited A and E with toothache.

The BDA’s Henrik Overgard-Nielsen, said that ministers are guilty of “underestimating” the impact of their reluctance to improve dental care on other areas of the health service. Patients are ending up in hospitals because they don’t know where else to go, and the only response from the government has been to increase charges year on year.

A spokeswoman for NHS England suggested that access to NHS dentistry had improved and only a small number of dental patients need to attend emergency departments. Patients are able to seek advice about pain relief from local pharmacies, and those who need to see a dentist are advised to contact their local practice or call NHS 111.

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