Weston-super-Mare dentist crisis 'needs to be fixed urgently'

The challenge of managing to get an NHS dentist in Weston-super-Mare has been raised in Parliament.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday May 8, Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose told PM Rishi Sunak: “Weston-super-Mare is a growing town so local health services are rightly growing too.

“Weston General Hospital is treating more patients for a wider variety of problems than before, GPs’ surgeries are offering thousands more appointments this year than last, and our new diagnostic centre means faster tests and treatments. But there is a fly in our NHS-prescribed ointment — dentistry isn’t fixed yet. The new dental recovery plan is very welcome, but when will it mean appointments that Westonians can book?”

READ MORE: Bristol Airport short-stay car park has been ripped up

READ MORE: Gang flooded West Country with 'vast amounts of cocaine'

In respone, Mr Sunak said: “Our dentistry recovery plan will make dental services faster, simpler, and fairer for patients, funding around 2.5 million more appointments and I was pleased to note that access is improving in my honourable friend’s area, with nearly 10% more children seeing a dentist in June last year than in the previous year, but we are going further.

“The new patient premium that was announced last year is ensuring that more NHS dentistry will be provided, and since then, at the end of January, 500 more practices have said that they are now open to new patients.”

The £200m plan sees the government offer dentists a "bonus" to take on new NHS patients and offer dentists a "golden hello" to work in underserved areas.

Taking to Twitter after the exchange, leader of North Somerset Council, Cllr Mike Bell, said it was good to see Mr Penrose raise the issue, but warned: “The government's dental recovery plan has not even made a dent in the problem. No wonder residents in Weston-super-Mare say it's hard to get an NHS appointment and almost impossible to get an NHS dentist if you don't have one. There is a dental crisis and it needs urgent action.”

In March, the Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board presented a paper to the council’s health overview and scrutiny panel said there were at the time 25 dental services in North Somerset providing NHS services but warned: “Unfortunately, none of the providers providing routine NHS services are currently accepting new NHS patients.”