Over 100 people queue outside Kent dental practice after it makes space for new NHS patients

Credit: Elli Cain

Hundreds of people desperate to find a dentist queued round the block as a practice in Kent revealed it would welcome NHS patients for the first time.

Faversham Smiles said it took 27,000 calls in a day and received more than 700 emails from people eager to secure a check-up.

Queues formed within a couple of hours of news emerging the practice was making space for new NHS patients - some people were pictured bringing camping chairs as they settled down to wait to register.

The increase in demand for NHS dentistry has been described as 'a national crisis' with a damning report published just a few weeks ago revealing people in the UK have been forced to pull out their own teeth at home because they cannot access or afford an NHS dentist.

This morning on his morning rounds, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden was grilled by Good Morning Britain's Ranvir Singh on the dentistry crisis.

Mr Dowden, the MP for Hertsmere said he 'understood' the frustration from patients.

"There is more we need to do," he said.

"And the key thing is to get more dentists into the NHS, so we announced last week for the first time in the history of the NHS, a long-term workforce plan for the NHS, putting that long-term investment in, which will mean that we recruit 40% more dentists, and getting more dentists in who will be able to deal with this."

Many people have reported being unable to get an appointment for months, with some revealing they've been forced to go private.

Posting on their Facebook page, Faversham Smiles Practice Manager Elli Cain revealed that they had been inundated with visitors, calls and emails in just a few hours, and that the team had been 'working tirelessly' to deal with the high volume of enquiries.

She said: "It is my great pleasure to be able to inform you that we’ve had another successful intake of new NHS patients today!

"The whole team have been working really hard to make sure that we are able to provide as much NHS dental treatment as we can, and today has really blown us away!

"Since 08:00 when we opened, and our intake began, we’ve had over 100 people attend the Practice, over 700 emails, and our phone system has logged over 27,000 calls (so far)!"

The practice confirmed it managed to secure appointments for more than 120 patients, double the number of people it originally had NHS places for.

More than 100 people queued outside Faversham Smiles dental practice to get an appointment. Credit: Fay Ackland

Following the queues in Faversham, Practice Manager, Elli Cain used her social media post to reassure patients that the appointments that were on offer were not months away, but 'in the near future.'

She added: "I appreciate that compared to the sheer volume of enquiries today, this seems like very few; I simply ask that everyone bear in mind that these appointments have been secured in the near future, without needing to wait for months.

"We must work within our capacity as there is no sense in booking in hundreds of patients but then not being able to provide their required treatment in a reasonable timeframe.

"For anyone wishing to join the Waiting List, or contact the Practice, please remember that we understand how frustrating this situation is. We would love to be able to take on every patient immediately, but it simply isn’t feasible.

"The team here have been working tirelessly to speak to as many people as we can, but we are human and can only try our best, please be patient with us, we are trying to help everyone. I am so proud of every member of this team today and every day, and I hope that you can appreciate their efforts as I do.

"I send my greatest apologies to those who have not been able to secure appointments today, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has shown us such loyal support, be it through kind words to the team, patience when booking in, or through social media platforms."

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