Chronic shortage of West Norfolk dental places revealed as just one practice open to new NHS patients
PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 May 2018
Dental services in West Norfolk are among the worst in the region, with fewer children visiting an NHS dentist than anywhere else in Norfolk.
Of the 13 dental practices available in the area, only one is currently accepting new adult NHS patients.
These findings were detailed in a report by the county council’s Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (NHOSC) ahead of its meeting on Thursday, May 24.
It states that less than 60pc of children and less than 50pc of adults in King’s Lynn had visited an NHS dentist in the last two years.
West Norfolk also had fewer NHS dentists per head of population than the average for Norfolk - 61 dentists, which equates to 2,855 patients per dentist.
A survey was carried out by Healthwatch Norfolk, the consumer champion for health and social care, which received 314 responses from parents/guardians which equated to 606 children and young people.
Its findings showed that 66pc took their children to the dentist every six months and 14pc took them every year.
More than a quarter, 26pc, had to travel more than 10 miles to their children’s dental practice and the majority of these travelled by car.
It found that only four dental practices were accepting children at the time of the survey and one of these would only accept children as NHS patients if their parent/guardian was at the practice as a private patient.
Concerns were also echoed by service personnel’s families living in RAF Marham who cannot utilise the Ministry of Defence provided service.
A survey found 42pc of the 136 people interviewed had to travel more than 10 miles to visit the dentist, with one person stating they had to travel 175 miles back to their hometown.
Barriers highlighted in the report included the remote location of the station, where nearby towns are only accessible by car or through the limited bus service.
NHOSC member and West Norfolk councillor Susan Fraser said more needs to be done to attract newly qualified dentists to the area.
She said she will also raise questions at the meeting about transport issues for people living in Marham, particularly buses.
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