Acute shortage of dentists in south western England forces many in need of dental services to travel nearly 40 miles to get registered under an NHS dentist. A new patient from south Devon would have to travel at least 50 miles away, to locate a dentist at Northam, near Bideford. The same applies for somebody living in Cornwall, situated 50 miles away from Northam.
Furthermore, nearly 15, 000 dental patients belonging to the NHS would be de-registered by their dentists, according to official reports. The new government contract has been responsible for many dentists to opt out of the NHS. Although the Government has introduced certain reforms to hold on to the dentists, only five accept new NHS patients in the Cornwall, Devon, south Somerset and west Dorset area, without any restrictions.
Harris Dental Surgeries, which has four dental service establishments in Torbay, remarked that it was not happy with the way the dentists were being asked to sign contracts, by the government.
According to South West Peninsula Strategic Health Authority, as much as 26 surgeries have decided to quit the government scheme in Devon, posing a significant strain on the delivery of quality dental services. Another four practices have already opted out of the government scheme.
This being on one side, the Government in response to the above situation has said that the new contract would ensure a reliable income to the NHS dentists, allowing them to spend quality time with their registered patients. However, dentists argue that the new contract poses restrictions on their work, limiting the provision of quality medical services, which the patient needs.
The new regional medical school, an establishment of the Peninsula Medical School had provision for inclusion for nearly 62 students. It has expressed hope that graduates of the medical school would help lessen the burden of dentists in the region.