PEOPLE in Bradford have spoken of their frustration in trying to find a local NHS dentist – with some resorting to travelling miles away or paying for private treatment.

The scale of the problem is laid bare through the NHS website, which shows many dental surgeries in the district are not accepting new NHS patients.

Some are only taking new NHS patients for specialist dental care by referral.

We asked Telegraph & Argus readers about their experiences and had a huge response.

'It affected me mentally and left me depressed'

In one shocking case, a woman, who did not want to be named, told us: “I have been waiting for an NHS dentist for almost seven years and I have rung every dentist in Bradford to put me on a waiting list and had no luck with it.

“I had a problem with my wisdom teeth and struggled to find a NHS dentist so I had no choice but to go private as I was in excruciating pain.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: File photo of a dental check-up. Picture: PAFile photo of a dental check-up. Picture: PA

“It cost me £500 for the treatment which left me nothing in my bank to survive on and hungry for food, so I went to eat at my family's house and waited till my next payday

“It affected me mentally and left me depressed as I had to ask my family for help for food.”

'Waiting lists are full' 

Many others spoke of the immense difficulties they have faced in trying to access NHS dentistry.

Peter Townsend said: “Haven’t been able to find one since moving here in 2001."

Marie Louise added: “I got registered after around 11 years on lists, then after only 12 months the dentist wrote to say they were going private so no longer treating NHS patients. Here I am again, back on the wait to even get on a list.”

Christine Lane said: “I have five children, no dentist accept NHS near me, not accepting new patients.

“Getting a dentist, unless emergency, is ridiculous.”

Abbey Lea wrote: “I have to travel on two buses each way for me and my kids as we stayed at our dentist, but moved other side of Bradford and couldn’t get in local, 10 years ago now.”

Marie Keating said she hasn’t had an NHS dentist for nearly 15 years.

“A couple of years ago, I rang every one of them in Bradford and was told their waiting lists were full.”

New plan for dentistry - but critics say it isn't good enough

Under new plans to boost dentistry across England, dentists are to be offered cash to take on new patients and given £20,000 “golden hellos” to work in communities with a lack of NHS dental services.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the plan is backed by £200m and will “deliver millions more NHS dental appointments and provide easier and faster access to care for people right across the country”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Prime Minister Rishi SunakPrime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: PA)

But leading dentists said the recovery package will not be enough to help people struggling to access dental care.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, claimed the cash was “not new money” and said: “It’s actually an allocation of the contracts that are already with the dental practices.”

Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s (BDA) General Dental Practice Committee, said: “This recovery plan is not worthy of the title. It won’t halt the exodus from the workforce or offer hope to millions struggling to access care.”

Bradford MP speaks out 

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins questioned Health Secretary Victoria Atkins over the plan.

She said: “Government says these recovery plans will provide care for up to 2.5m people. 

“Meanwhile, their own data shows that 12m people in England have unmet dentistry needs – which would still leave around 9.5 million people without a dentist.”

The MP shared the case of Beverley, who was informed that her dentist was no longer accepting NHS patients.

Ms Cummins told the Health Secretary that her constituent had contacted her as the drugs she needs to take to treat her bone condition have had side effects.

She said: “Beverley now requires a check-up every three months after four of her teeth have decayed to such an extent that they need to be extracted. She has been with the same dentist for 50 years but has just been told that her dentist is going fully private – leaving her without an NHS dentist.

“Can the Minister guarantee that, under these plans, people like Beverley will be able to access an NHS dentist?”

Responding, Ms Atkins said: “I appreciate the hon. lady’s point about retention, which we are looking to address.

“But we all acknowledge that dentists are independent contractors, so we must ask them to do their bit and help our NHS out.”

Speaking afterward, Ms Cummins called for “fundamental reform” and a long-term plan.