York councillor demands ‘urgent’ action to tackle dental crisis

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The executive member for health and adult social care at York Council, Carol Runciman, has demanded “urgent” action to tackle the dental crisis in the city.

Cllr Runciman said that issues that were already present before the start of the pandemic have exacerbated the impact of lockdowns and restrictions, creating a system that is in “crisis.” Cllr Runciman suggested that underfunding has contributed to services being stretched like never before and said that an urgent plan needs to be implemented to help residents who require dental care.

Staff shortages and ongoing restrictions have caused problems with access to local services to become more widespread and hundreds of people are now unable to get an appointment in the city. Patients are unable to get routine appointments, which means that they are not only struggling with short-term issues, but also “storing up” problems, which will become more complex and expensive to treat in the future, Cllr Runciman stated. There are also concerns that dental access issues and shortages will increase pressure on local GP and A&E services.

Figures released recently by the NHS show that there are 30 fewer dentists working in York now than three years ago and nine fewer than a year ago. Practice teams are struggling to fill vacancies due to a national shortage of dental professionals, which has caused widespread recruitment problems and impacted waiting times across the country.

A Healthwatch York report published in November 2021 revealed that some city practices had waiting lists of two years, with the average wait for treatment between 3 and 6 months. Up to 80 percent of adults surveyed by Healthwatch York suggested that they had experienced difficulties getting an appointment.

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