Your Voice, Your Vote: Gosport dental patient urges NHS reform

illustrate, Yvonne Walton says finding an NHS dentist feels like 'bashing your head against a brick wall'

  • author, Alastair Fee
  • Role, BBC South health reporter

In the lead-up to the election, we're working hard to examine the issues that matter most to you.

So far more than 100 people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have contacted us through the BBC's Your Voice, Your Vote initiative.

An issue raised by many people in the South is the difficulty in accessing NHS dental care.

Yvonne Walton, 73, from Gosport, told the BBC she lived in an “NHS dental desert”.

She said her situation changed in 2018, when she was living in Surrey and found it more difficult to access NHS dental care.

In 2022, Ms Walton moved to Gosport, Hampshire, with her daughter and two grandchildren.

She said they had been unable to find an NHS dentist for the children despite calling all the clinics in the area.

Ms Walton explained: “I spent hours on the phone to the dentist – the receptionist was actually laughing at me. I was online for hours. I tried everything and I felt like I'd hit my head against a brick. on the wall.

“I want to hear a long-term answer to this question, not just a plaster.

“Everyone knows the NHS appears to be broken, but if you don't look after people's teeth you're going to pay a lot more.”

illustrate, Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said the industry's problems began in 2006

The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for changes to the contract.

The company said the problems originated in 2006, when the current contract was introduced.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the BDA, said: “We have a system where if you don't meet your targets, the government and the NHS will take your money back.

“If you overdeliver on your contract, you don’t get paid – no business can operate under this model for very long.”

Image Source, Getty Images

illustrate, The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for contract changes

How both parties plan to resolve the issue:

  • The Conservatives have a teeth restoration plan. The party said the plan has resulted in 500 new clinics opening their doors to NHS patients and creating an extra 2.5 million NHS appointments by 2024.
  • Labor has a dental rescue plan to provide 700,000 extra appointments a year. The party said it would recruit dentists to communities who need them most and reform NHS contracts.
  • The Lib Dems plan to launch an emergency scheme guaranteeing free tests for children, young mothers, pregnant women and people on low incomes. The party also said it would fix the NHS dental contract and bring dentists back from the private sector.
  • The Greens plan to spend £50 billion on health and social care, including giving everyone access to NHS dental services. It plans to reform the contract and pay for it all by raising taxes on the wealthy.
  • The Reform Party has yet to release a manifesto.
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