NO DENTISTS in the Carlisle area are currently taking on new child or adult NHS


Health service bosses say they are aware of the shortage of places across north Cumbria and are carrying out a review.

However, when contacted by The Cumberland News, NHS England was unable to say exactly how many people are currently on the waiting list for dental places.

A spokesman said there was no central database for this information.

Local politicians have called for answers about the extent of the problem - which comes amid reports of a national dentist shortage - and the reasons behind it.

Carlisle’s Conservative MP, John Stevenson, and Labour’s next MP candidate, Ruth Alcroft, said more analysis and information is needed.

Those in need of an NHS dentist can find out which practices have places by using the NHS website.

But a search for the Carlisle area currently shows there are no places available for either new adult or child NHS patients in the area.

The nearest practices are in Keswick, and these are only taking on children.

A limited number of practices will take patients by referral, but not new clients.

It comes about 10 years after a high-profile dentist shortage, which resulted in long waiting lists for NHS places.

However, following significant investment in training and the opening of new NHS practices, the problem had been largely resolved.

However it appears that Cumbria, and other parts of the UK, could be facing a new NHS dental shortage.

A spokesman for NHS North East and Yorkshire confirmed there are problems locally, but they are putting in extra money to increase the places available at existing practices.

“Whilst a wider review to inform the future plans for improving access to routine dental care for patients in north Cumbria is completed, funding has been agreed for practices who have the capacity to offer additional appointments to increase the level of access available,” he said.

Mr Stevenson said said he wanted to know the full extent of the shortage and whether it was down to recruitment problems or other issues.

“I think the NHS has to do a proper analysis to find out the excess demand and take appropriate action to make sure there are sufficient dentists.

“It’s worrying that there is a lack of capacity for adults, but even more for children.”

Mrs Alcroft said she was concerned that NHS England did not have the latest waiting list figures.

“I think that in itself is a real issue. How can they properly review it if they don’t have those figures?” she said.

“In my opinion, dental care has always been a class issue. There is a disregard for those on lower incomes when it’s fundamental to our health.

“I’m very concerned that we have children who aren’t accessing regular dental examinations when we are seeing an increase in the number having teeth extracted.

“NHS dental provision is clearly not fit for purpose.”