Fall in the number of Bristol patients with access to NHS dentists

There are 57 practices in Bristol that provide NHS dental services Credit: ITV News

There has been a steady fall in the number of Bristol patients able to access NHS dentists.

The percentage of adults seeing an NHS dentist in the city has fallen from 43.5 per cent to 37.3 per cent, according to the latest 12 month data available from June 2021 to June 2022.

The declining availability of NHS dentists in Bristol matches the fall in the rest of the country, but has left many people unable to access vital dental care.

There are 57 practices in Bristol that provide NHS dental services, according to a report to the health and wellbeing board at Bristol City Council.

The board met on Thursday 13 July to discuss the issues.

It said: “The key issue affecting access to NHS dentistry across the country is the workforce. It is difficult to determine why established dentists across the country leave.

"Anecdotally, factors include the challenges of working in NHS practices that are experiencing high demand from patients, and the opportunities in private care.”

In May, Bupa announced it was closing its dentist practice in St Pauls. The shortage of NHS dentists has sparked concern among local councillors and calls for action.

Speaking during a council meeting on Tuesday 11 July, Labour Councillor Brenda Massey, representing Southmead, said: “It’s appalling that in a civilised country local people should have to organise donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste to give to school children in an attempt to improve their dental care, due to the lack of NHS dentists in the area.”

Mayor Marvin Rees added: “Making sure that we have adequate, accessible and affordable dentist treatment available to people of all ages is absolutely essential.”

Credit: Alex Seabrook, LDRS