Health watchdog reveals no dental practices in Leeds are taking on new NHS patients

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A health watchdog has revealed that there are currently no dental practices in Leeds taking on new NHS patients.
Representatives from Healthwatch Leeds suggested that it is not possible to find any clinics that are willing to take on NHS patients in the city. Stuart Morrison, from the watchdog, said that there have already been over 100 calls from people who have been unable to see a dentist this year.

Patients have complained about being unable to find practices with available NHS places, but many have also struggled to get an appointment with clinics they have visited for years. Some people have also expressed concerns about accessing treatment for severe dental problems, including infections and abscesses.

NHS dental care is significantly cheaper than most private services and it is available free of charge for children and those who receive certain benefits. However, research suggests that practices are unable to offer NHS places to residents in Leeds, which has left many wondering how they are going to access the treatment they need. There is an option to go private, but many people cannot afford to pay for private dentistry and the alternative offered by practices is joining a waiting list. In some cases, surgeries have waiting times up to 4 years for NHS dental care.

There have been reports of access issues across the UK as a result of backlogs and restrictions related to the pandemic. Practices closed in March 2020 and teams have been working hard to clear backlogs and catch up since clinics reopened but this has been made difficult by limitations on patient numbers. Practices are running at reduced capacity, which means that it is challenging to cope with the demand for appointments.

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