A NORTH Yorkshire MP has expressed his concern in the House of Commons on Tuesday for the “difficult situation” in North Yorkshire where he says there is no NHS dentist availability.

MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake, told the House of Commons on Tuesday that there was a “difficult situation” across North Yorkshire.

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He said: “There’s no NHS dentist availability across the whole of Thirsk and Malton.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid stressed that there was a similar situation “across England.”

He added: “Of course, North Yorkshire as well. Again, we do know how the pandemic has impacted there.

“I think dentists have tried to do the very best they can under those circumstances. The changes we’re making to infection protection control will help. We are looking at further measures.”

The news comes as children across the country are struggling to access NHS dental care and risk being left in pain as dentists grapple with the backlog built up during the Coronavirus pandemic.

When asked if he could expand on his concerns, Mr Hollinrake said he was “in discussion” with health ministers about the situation.

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He said: “I am very concerned about this matter and also the general absence of any NHS dental treatment availability in the constituency. I am in discussions with health ministers, having asked them to look into the situation urgently and I am waiting to hear further.”

However, the British Dental Association do not believe the pandemic is completely to blame for the backlog and lack of availability and feel “for decades these problems have been wilfully ignored.”

Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association, said: “Dentists and patients will thank Kevin for spelling out the facts. Sadly dentistry across Yorkshire was in crisis long before the pandemic struck.

“Even when it was ‘business as usual’ we saw patients taking matters into their own hands, and charities stepping in to pick up the pieces where the NHS had failed.

“For a decade these problems have been wilfully ignored. It’s tragic that every corner of England needed to experience the same challenges before the Government finally took note.

“Ministers need to show some ambition, make a break from failed systems and underfunding, and actually build back better.”

The association issued an open letter alongside Healthwatch Chair Sir Robert Francis QC to Rishi Sunak yesterday.

The letter asked the chancellor to ensure resources are in place for the recovery and rebuilding of services.

Looking at the impact of Covid, the British Dental Association have reported over 30 million appointments lost across England since Covid struck.

NHS Dental statistics show 3,969,618 courses of treatment were delivered in North Yorkshire and North East in 2020/21 compared to 6,763,208 in 2019.

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The association says that practices were instructed to suspend all face-to-face care at the onset of lockdown, and since June 2020 have been working to strict pandemic restrictions that have radically reduced patient numbers.

It also argues that minsters have pledged a reform of the contract underpinning NHS dentistry and have said that it is unclear whether they are ready to make decisive break from targets and underfunding.

Healthwatch England have warned that some people might need to wait for up to three years for dental care while patients reported pulling out their own teeth or being told to use “DIY filling kits”.

The letter states that: “NHS dentistry faces an unprecedented backlog – the initial suspension of face-to-face care, and ongoing restrictions mean over 30 million appointments have been lost since lockdown, and patients and the NHS will be feeling the impact for years to come."

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