New NHS dentist set to open in Scarborough before summer as industry 'hanging by a thread'

A new NHS dentist is set to open in Scarborough before the summer, the Government has announced.

By George Buksmann
Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:34 pm

Scarborough residents have routinely struggled to access NHS dental care, with new facilities now revealed to help address historic provision issues which have plagued the town.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Scarborough and Whitby MP Sir Robert Goodwill sought assurances from Under Secretary for Health and Social Care, Maria Caulfield, that measures are being taken to address shortfalls in NHS dental care in the town.

Ms Caufield said: "I assure my right hon. Friend, however, that dental services in Scarborough are currently being commissioned by NHS England following the handing back of dental regional accountability. Procurement processes are in place, and a new practice is set to be in place by the summer."

The borough has faced historic NHS dental care issues, stretching back as far as 2004. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

In March last year, Scarborough patients were left scrambling for a place on overloaded waiting lists after a practice in Eastfield was forced to close due to a lack of dentists.

The borough’s ongoing NHS dentists saga made national news back in 2004 when hundreds of people queued around the block to sign up to a newly opened practice in New Queen Street.

Department of Health data analysed by the BBC revealed more than 1,000 dentists working across 2,500 roles in England and Wales stopped carrying out NHS work in the last year.

New data shows NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recruited on average just one new dentist per year in the last five years across the entire county.

MyDentist in Eastfield was forced to close due to a lack of staff.

It was one of just seven CCGs to recruit new dentists between 2020 and 2021 - compared to a North East and Yorkshire percentage change of minus five per cent.

The British Dental Association said "NHS dentistry is hanging by a thread".

The trade union's own survey from December last year revealed that more than 40 per cent of dentists said they are now likely to change careers or seek early retirement within the next year, due to the current pressures on the service.

The dentistry crisis predates the coronavirus pandemic, but Covid is said to have exacerbated the problems. During lockdown instances of people removing their own teeth and 'DIY dental care' made national headlines.

North Yorkshire is just one of seven CCGs to record an increase in dentists in the last five years, but recruitment has stagnated. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Official data shows that at North Yorkshire CCG there has been a two per cent rise in the number of dentists carrying out NHS work over the last five years.

This has largely stagnated since 2017, with just five new dentists recruited in the last five years, bringing the total operating in the region to 273.

Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the British Dental Association said: "Every practice struggling to fill vacancies translates into thousands of patients unable to access care.

"Years of failed contracts and underfunding have meant a growing number of dentists no longer see the NHS as a place to build a career. The pandemic has upped the ante, and we are now facing down an exodus."

What does the NHS say?

An NHS spokesperson said that the health service had taken "unprecedented action" to provide additional funding for practices unable to deliver their usual levels of activity during the pandemic and set up 600 urgent dental centres across England.

"People should continue to come forward for the dental care they need, and the care and treatment of people who need it most should be prioritised," they added.