No dentists in Calderdale taking on new NHS patients in Calderdale or Kirklees
A health watchdog has revealed there are no dentists in Calderdale currently taking on new NHS patients.
Adults and children are facing travelling miles for their dental care because no practice in Calderdale - or Kirklees - will take them on.
Health and social care champions Healthwatch Calderdale and Healthwatch Kirklees have been contacting every dental practice in each borough to establish if they were willing to register new patients to their NHS list, whether they would register a child ,and whether they were offering routine appointments.
Every dental practice told them they could not currently register a new NHS patient of any age.
Healthwatch Calderdale says in the first three months of this year, it received more calls and emails from people struggling to find an NHS dentist or access NHS dental treatment than it did in the whole of 2020.
Helen Hunter, Healthwatch Calderdale's chief executive, said the pandemic had made "a significant problem even worse".
"We want to help, but we know that it’s a constant battle to find dental care," she said.
"Sometimes people are just looking for a regular check-up but others are experiencing significant dental pain.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that dentists have had to adapt what they do and how much of it they can do, due to cleaning and changing PPE between appointments.
"This means less appointments are available and this has made a significant problem even worse.
“Healthwatch Calderdale along with all other Healthwatch in West Yorkshire, will continue to highlight the lack of local NHS dental appointments to NHS England, Healthwatch England and The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.
"We will continue to work alongside these partners to ensure that NHS dentistry is at the forefront of their national plans and regional plans.”
She added that dental practices are working towards resuming 60 per cent of pre-Covid NHS appointments by September.
Currently, if people are in pain they can call NHS 111 and ask for access to the dental triage system that is operating in West Yorkshire.
Patients can also call any dental practice that offers NHS appointments and ask for the triage system that way.
From the calls Healthwatch Calderdale and Healthwatch Kirklees made to dental practices in Calderdale and Kirklees, many practices said they were prioritising urgent dental treatment.
Once they were able to offer more appointments, practices have told Healthwarch Calderdale and Healthwatch Kirklees that new NHS patients would be taken from the existing waiting lists that many practices hold.
But a lot of practices said they were not in a position to add new names to the waiting list.
A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the North East and Yorkshire, said: “As a result of safety measures put in place to provide treatment in a Covid-safe way, regular and routine dentistry continues at a smaller scale than prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Progression to resume the full range of routine dental care is taking time and practices continue to prioritise seeing patients who have an urgent dental treatment need.”
The NHS says anyone with an urgent dental issue should contact their local dental practice or NHS 111 for advice during normal Monday to Friday working periods.
Where patients have an urgent dental care issue out of hours, they should contact NHS 111.
The NHS has made it clear to practices that children and other vulnerable groups should be prioritised for appointments, as well as urgent appointments