New NHS dentist stops enrolling patients in Bristol as six-hour-long around-the-block queue disperses

7 February 2024, 15:39 | Updated: 7 February 2024, 17:43

An NHS dentist in Bristol has asked prospective patients to stop queuing outside after a six-hour-long around-the-block line formed after hundreds of local hopefuls tried to sign up for the new service
An NHS dentist in Bristol has asked prospective patients to stop queuing outside after a six-hour-long around-the-block line formed after hundreds of local hopefuls tried to sign up for the new service. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

An NHS dentist in Bristol has asked prospective patients to stop queuing outside after a six-hour-long around-the-block line formed after hundreds of local hopefuls tried to sign up for the new service.

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A sign outside the practice this morning said "we are not enrolling any more patients" after the NHS dentist said it was no longer able to accommodate new bookings after reopening its doors this week.

"We are now only seeing the patients who have been booked an appointment," it read.

"Please do not queue up. We will only let in patients who can confirm their Name and Appointment time for today."

The dentist was formerly a Bupa dental centre but reopened as an NHS practice on Monday in the St Pauls area in Bristol. St Pauls has been without a dentist for several months and is one of very few NHS services in the region.

It comes after it was revealed dentists will be offered a £20,000 'golden hello' payment if they remain an NHS service for three years.

The plans are part of creating one million more dentist appointments amid a lack of available slots for NHS patients. Another £200 million will be dished out to encourage more to stay in the profession, LBC revealed Monday.

Nick challenges Health Sec on the state if NHS dentistry pre and post pandemic

After the announcement Shawn Charlwood, chairman of British Dental Association's general dental practice committee, told LBC News: “We've had UK citizens travelling abroad - including to Ukraine, a war zone - to access dental care, which I just think is mind-boggling.

"I don't know the numbers, but we've certainly been picking up in the last few weeks that some Ukrainians are returning to Ukraine to see their dentist because they've not been able to access care in the NHS in the UK.

"This whole system has been allowed to wither on the vine for many years. This has been going on for almost two decades, and there is a steadfast refusal to deal with the key issue, which is the NHS contract, which a cross-party committee has described as unfit for purpose."

A sign outside St Pauls Dental Practice in Bristol says they are not enrolling patients anymore after a six-hour long queue formed outside
A sign outside St Pauls Dental Practice in Bristol says they are not enrolling patients anymore after a six-hour long queue formed outside. Picture: LBC

Huge queue forms to see dentist in Bristol

Hundreds queue outside Bristol NHS dentist
Hundreds queue outside Bristol NHS dentist. Picture: LBC

Read More: Health Secretary Victoria Atkins stumped on exact figure for new dentists as ministers plan £20,000 ‘golden hello’

Read More: Dentists to be paid £20,000 to take on NHS patients in plan to tackle 'dental deserts'

On Monday, police officers arrived at the scene in Bristol on Monday to control the queue. Avon and Somerset police said they told hopefuls towards the back of the queue that they were unlikely to reach the front before the practice closed for the day - but stressed they did not ask anyone to leave.

The dentist had been the subject of a crowdfunding campaign in recent months after it closed its doors in June last year.

News of the reopening rapidly spread, with hundreds of people seen queuing along the street in a bid to sign up as it reopened nearly nine months on.

The practice saw long lines trail down Ashley Court, the road where the dentist is located, and around the block.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) announced last year that SGA Services Ltd would take over the practice, located in an area of the city in desperate need of NHS dentists.

On Monday, people could be seen waiting calmly as the line wound its way along the pavement - despite the slow moving nature of the queue.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) announced last year that SGA Services Ltd would take over the practice in an area of the city in sore need of more NHS dentists.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) announced last year that SGA Services Ltd would take over the practice in an area of the city in sore need of more NHS dentists. Picture: LBC

Hopeful patients could be seen queuing from as early as 8.30am when news of the opening spread.

One patient named Maria, aged 80, on Monday had queued outside St Paul's Dental Practice since 8.30am.

She spoke of how she'd been unable to see another dentist since the Bupa dental practice closed under previous ownership in June of 2023.

It comes as North Bristol NHS Trust saw 235 patients enter their emergency department with dental abscesses between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023.

Members of the public continued queueing long into the afternoon in a bid sign up.

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