Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, Maria Caulfield, spoke to Stephanie after it was revealed Barnsley’s seen a 21 per cent fall in dentists over the last two years.
During the meeting, attended by MPs from across the House of Commons, she called for an increase in the number of dentists in Barnsley, as well as improved access to NHS appointments.
The MP also asked residents to get in touch to share their stories of dentistry access, so that she can continue to campaign on the issue.
She added: “Even before Covid delays, dentistry has been struggling to keep up with demand.
“Now, after two years of disruption, people in Barnsley are having to join waiting lists of several years to get the treatment they need, while suffering some of the worst rates of tooth decay in the country.
‘“f you are struggling to get an NHS dentist appointment in Barnsley, please get in touch and let me know.
“I will continue to campaign on this important issue.’”
According to the British Dental Association (BDA), unhappiness with NHS contracts - relating to both the length and cost - were key factors as to why issues have been encountered.
However, local studies have revealed Brexit is also to blame, with dentists from Spain and Portugal being lost - something that could have knock-on impacts for the ‘next decade’.
A BDA report said: “Barnsley has no stand-alone, urgent dental care centre but patients can access care via a call centre and will be offered emergency care close to their address - although it seems that in practice patients are usually asked to travel to Sheffield.
“Each practice should act as an urgent dental care centre and should see patients regardless of their home address.
“Barnsley dentists have all worked extremely hard to continue to provide services.
“A separate ‘hub’ would require staffing with additional dentists and this would be difficult to do, given local and national recruitment difficulties.
“It is unclear why this is, although dentists from abroad have been lost due to Brexit - particularly from Spain and Portugal - and it will be a problem for the next five to ten years.”