Police today broke up a snaking queue that formed outside a newly opened NHS dental practice, in scenes that illustrate the dating crisis affecting millions of desperate Britons.
One person stuck in the queue outside the surgery in the St Paul’s district of Bristol was a disabled cancer patient who had “no choice” but to brave the cold.
Meanwhile, a carer in her 70s who decided to sit on the road after waiting since 8.30am criticized the unacceptable delays.
A local news website compared the queue, eventually closed by police at 2:15 p.m., as “reminiscent of Soviet-era Eastern Europe,” where queues for essentials such as food were an infamous part of the daily life.
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Hundreds of people were pictured queuing outside a newly opened NHS dental practice in Bristol today.
Local media compared the serpentine queue as “reminiscent of Soviet-era Eastern Europe.”
One woman, called Maria, told BristolLive she had been there since 8.30am this morning and was hoping to get a spot.
Later that afternoon, police implemented a mid-queue cutoff, meaning anyone behind would have to try their luck again another day.
The queue closed at around 2.15pm, about six hours after it opened, and hundreds of potential patients queued.
Officers implemented a cutoff point in the middle of the line, telling those behind them that they would have to come back and try their luck again another day.
Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, condemned the scenes. He said: ‘Does the future of NHS dentistry involve police turning away desperate patients?
‘If ministers believe that plaster policies will solve this crisis, then these scenes will be repeated.
“Nothing short of fundamental reform can save this service and restore access to millions of people.”
NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years, with leaders claiming the sector is chronically underfunded, making it financially unviable to carry out treatments.
Compounding the problem is that, as more dentists leave the NHS, those who remain are becoming overwhelmed by more and more patients.
Patients have told of queuing from 4am to win a place at surgeries that have opened their lists to NHS patients, a phenomenon that experts have warned is becoming the “new normal”.
Some have even turned to DIY dentistry, using pliers to remove rotten or painful teeth at home.
Private clinics can charge up to £75 for an appointment, with fillings, cleanings and x-rays carrying additional fees.
The newly opened clinic in Bristol, called Saint Pauls Dental Practice, replaced a former Bupa Dental Care site.
The former dental clinic reportedly closed due to staff shortages and rising inflation.
A woman named Maria said BristolLive She has been there since 8.30am and hopes to get a spot.
He said he had not been able to see a dentist after the previous Bupa site closed in June last year.
Maria added that she found it unacceptable that the public had to queue in the hope of getting a place for NHS dental patients, some of whom have serious health problems.
‘One of my neighbors faces cancer surgery tomorrow. She will be somewhere in line,” she said.
“She is also disabled and cannot stand for long, but she has had no choice but to do so.”
Those queuing outside the new dental clinic are not the only ones struggling to access affordable dental care in the UK.
An official survey recently revealed that a quarter of adults have delayed dental care or treatment due to cost.
One in three also said the cost of dentistry has affected the type of care or treatment they will receive, while a quarter do not brush their teeth at least twice a day.
The newly opened clinic in Bristol, called Saint Pauls Dental Practice, replaced a former Bupa Dental Care site which closed last year due to staff costs and rising inflation.
One in three also said the cost of dentistry has affected the type of care or treatment they will receive, while a quarter do not brush their teeth at least twice a day. The survey included 6,343 responses from 4,429 households in England and was commissioned by the Government Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. The latest figures show that only 43 per cent of over-18s were seen by a dentist in the 24 months to June this year, compared to more than half in the same period before the pandemic struck.
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Data from south west England, the region where Bristol is located, had one of the lowest rates of people who had visited an NHS dentist in the last two years, at just 39.6 per cent.
The findings come after a damning report by the Nuffield Trust, which warned that NHS dentistry is “gone forever” and must be rationed for those most in need.
Even children have a hard time getting the dental care they need.
Only a limited number of people are entitled to free NHS dental care. These include children, pregnant women and new mothers, and low-income people.
Even those who pay for NHS dentistry face substantially cheaper treatment and care rates because they are subsidized by the government.