Huge queues to sign up for dentist places shock patients as NHS medics blast 'Soviet' style scenes

4 May 2023, 13:23

The queue shocked NHS dentists
The queue shocked NHS dentists. Picture: Twitter/@elliebwick/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Shocking images of hundreds of people queuing to sign up at a dentist's are reminiscent of the "Soviet bloc" and not a 21st century health service, medics have warned.

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The huge line formed in King's Lynn, Norfolk, as Smile Dental Care offered 1,000 places to new patients.

But they would only take the first hundred people to sign up each day for 10 days.

People started queuing on the high street from 4am, and it grew to 300 people before the quota for the day was hit. The line reformed on Wednesday.

Norfolk is particularly affected by a shortage of dentists and the British Dental Association (BDA) blasted the scenes as reminiscent of the old Soviet bloc.

King's Lynn resident Ellie posted a photo of a queue and said on Twitter on Tuesday: "Is this a queue for a gig? To meet a celebrity? No.

"It's a queue of people trying to get into the only dentist in Norfolk taking on NHS patients. At least 300 people, some have been queuing since 5am.

Read more: Toddler rushed to hospital 32 times forced to wait over a year for NHS windpipe surgery

"If you wanna know the state of the UK right now, just take a look at this pic.

"For context, the dentist are taking on 100 NHS patients today, I was queuing and had to leave as I need to pick my son up at 10:30 and I know I'm not getting in. Absolutely ridiculous."

Mark Bates, who queued with his partner, told the Eastern Daily Press: "I queued on Tuesday for two and a half hours but they filled up the spaces before we got to the front.

Read more: Nurses threaten more strikes despite NHS staff getting 5 per cent pay rise after health unions back deal

"I came back early today [Tuesday] and queued again and at least I managed to get the forms in."

He added: "This has been the first chance to register anywhere for three years - hence the desperation."

The BDA said: "This is a wealthy 21st century nation. Dentistry is meant to be a core part of our NHS.

"But we're now seeing scenes you'd expect outside bakeries in the Soviet Bloc."

The BDA said in August that nine out of 10 dentists in the UK could not offer NHS appointments to new adult patients, while eight in 10 could not accept new child patients.

More than 1,000 said they had wait times of a year or longer.

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