May 26, 2022

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Richmondshire mum reveals “shocking” dentist situation after launching petition

A MOTHER-of-two has described her dentist hell and launched a petition after being on a dentist waiting list for two-years and struggling with a new filling.

Ally Allingham, from Richmondshire, has been on the waiting list at Lions Gate and for the NHS patients they occasionally take on at Alpha Dental in Catterick for two years.

After discovering she had two loose fillings she called 111, after which she was offered a dentist appointment at Alpha Dental in Northallerton.

She attended the appointment and had her old filling removed and replaced with a temporary one, however, she needed to have this replaced by an NHS dentist as soon as possible.

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Afterwards, realising she couldn’t get a dentist appointment anytime soon, Ms Allingham decided to start a petition calling for more dental practices in Richmond and Catterick.

The Northern Echo: Some of the comments left on Ally Allingham's post about her petitionSome of the comments left on Ally Allingham’s post about her petition

The petition is being held on Change.org and currently has 222 signatures at the time of writing, Ms Allingham said she was “shocked” that the issue was so widespread.

After she launched the petition, she promoted it on social media and soon received “harrowing” stories of people in a similar situation.

She said: “The line outside Lions Gate is sometimes down the road and I can’t actually believe how much pressure they must be under as the only sole NHS provider in the local area.

The Northern Echo: Lions House Dental Practice. Picture: Google StreetviewLions House Dental Practice. Picture: Google Streetview

“I put out some posts on Facebook asking for people to sign and the stories have been harrowing to say the least. People resorting to actually pulling their own teeth.”

She raised her concern over the lack of care leading to much bigger issues such as “mouth cancers being missed.”

Ms Allingham added: “I am concerned that the lack of care will result in mouth cancers being missed and other issues that the dentists look out for us that we don’t even consider.

The Northern Echo: Some of the comments left on Ally Allingham's post about her petitionSome of the comments left on Ally Allingham’s post about her petition

“My children and many, many others are missing regular check-ups that diagnose issues early to stop bigger problems later on.

“Even just the fact they are missing exposure to the appointments may lead to more children being scared and avoiding dentists all together as they grow.”

“The North East often gets left behind and I hope it’s not the last to be looked at. We are a community that fights for one another and I felt it was my duty as a proud member of that community to speak up and call for change.”

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It was reported on Thursday that unions have warned NHS oral care is “hanging by a thread” with patients facing up to two-year waits for routine check-ups and some resorting to DIY dentistry.

Data from England and Wales shows more than 2,500 dental posts were lost across both countries – made up of more than 1,000 dentists.

The Northern Echo:

One town in England has been unable to attract applicants for NHS dentist posts for two years.

Ian Gordon, dental director at Alpha Dental in Catterick, said: “If the patient in question contacts the practice we will respond in detail to her specific concerns. 

“Alpha Catterick has worked tirelessly through the pandemic to maintain a service for our own patients and those who requiring urgent care who are not previous patients of the practice.

“We operated from March 2020 as an urgent dental centre , one of the first in the Country to provide this service at a time when the majority of practices were closed for face to face appointments.

“NHS England required us to prioritise urgent care over routine care but we need to limit the amount of treatment we can provide for patients seeking urgent care to that which is necessary to deal with the presenting complaint. 

“If a permanent filling is appropriate we will place one but equally a temporary filling is often the most appropriate option.

“Like all dental practices we are working hard to manage a huge backlog of treatment caused by the NHSE enforced response to Covid which until recently severely limited the amount and type of treatment we could provide. Currently we are struggling with enforced staff isolation due to Covid rules. 

“I hope this goes someway to explaining why we have to manage time available to patients carefully and why temporary fillings may be all that can be offered in some circumstances, where appropriate.”

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It was announced yesterday that the Government is set to spend £50 million in an attempt to clear the huge backlog of dental appointments. 

However, Mr Gordon continued to say that the announcemnet was a “PR stunt” which will do “little to alleviate the backlog.”

He said: “Sadly the £50m announced yesterday was a PR stunt which will do little to alleviate the backlog and merely serve to raise unrealistic expectations. 

“Practices are really struggling to deliver their core contract commitments and face huge financial penalties for missing the target even by the equivalent of a few patients. 

The Northern Echo: Alpha Dental Care in Catterick. Picture: Google StreetviewAlpha Dental Care in Catterick. Picture: Google Streetview

“As such few will be able to find the capacity or workforce to deliver this initiative which is only available for the next 9 weeks. 

Lions House Dental Practice have been contacted for a comment but have yet to respond.

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https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/19865687.richmondshire-mum-reveals-shocking-dentist-situation-launching-petition/