Healthwatch survey finds no dental practices offering new NHS patient places in Bristol

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A survey carried out by Healthwatch Bristol has revealed that no dental practices in Bristol are accepting new NHS patients.

Representatives from the watchdog contacted 21 clinics located within two miles of the city centre but were informed that none had new NHS adult places available. Of the 21, twelve offered private treatment, with appointments available immediately at some practices.

Some practices recommended joining a waiting list, with one suggesting that it would be February next year before patients could make it onto the list.

Healthwatch employees also reported being encouraged to pay for private treatment or to sign up to a monthly insurance plan, which would make private care more affordable. Several members of staff working at the practices contacted said that dentists could see private patients but not NHS patients.

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement South West issued an apology to patients who had been unable to access urgent treatment, confirming that the body was working with local dentists and urgent dental centres, some of which have remained open, to increase emergency provision in the city.

Practices are dealing with significant backlogs at the moment due to ongoing restrictions on patient numbers due to the Covid-19 crisis and teams are at full stretch. Anyone who needs emergency dental treatment is advised to contact their regular dentist or call NHS 111.

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