Leeds & West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire patients turn to 'urgent dental care'

dental x ray Image copyright PA
Image caption Watchdog Healthwatch said 60% of 250 people they spoke to at emergency clinics in West Yorkshire did not have access to an NHS dentist

Emergency dental clinics in West Yorkshire are being used by people who cannot access an NHS dentist, a watchdog has said.

Healthwatch said the NHS had "poor understanding of what patients want".

The organisation, described as a national consumer champion in health and care, said 60% of 250 people they spoke to at emergency clinics did not have access to an NHS dentist.

NHS England said it was reviewing the urgent dental care service.

The watchdog said it had spoken to 250 patients attending unplanned dental clinics (clinics dealing with emergency work) and found 60% of those people were not registered with an NHS dentist and did not need emergency dental work.

'Increase funding'

Healthwatch also said it found the service in West Yorkshire was "disproportionately used by younger people and those from South Asian Communities".

The watchdog said: "We think that people use this service because they can't find a local NHS dentist.

"NHS England have not spent time properly understanding why people use unplanned dental clinics, and what patients want.

"Their efforts to understand what patients want from this service are poor.

"As a result, they are trying to commission a service that will not meet the needs of patients in West Yorkshire."

Alison Knowles, Locality Director, NHS England (Yorkshire and the Humber) accepted "access to a dentist is an important part of everyday healthcare for people".

"In the last two years, NHS England has funded treatment for an additional 10,000 patients in Yorkshire and the Humber," she said.

"We are now reviewing the urgent dental care service with the specific aim of further increasing the funding that's targeted at routine access to dental care."

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