STROUD children and adults may see better access to emergency dental care following meetings between different service providers.

Dr Simon Opher, chair of Stroud Locality NHS, has been meeting with local dentists and Gloucestershire NHS Integrated Care Board (ICB) try to make more emergency appointments available.

Gloucestershire ICB is responsible for planning - and buying in - health care services across the county.

Dr Opher said: “People tell me all the time about the struggle to see an NHS dentist.

"Getting an emergency NHS appointment is nearly impossible.

Stroud News and Journal: Dr Simon Opher issues update about NHS dentistry in Stroud area"It’s shocking that currently only 15 appointments are available each day for the whole of Gloucestershire. 

“I have been working with dental colleagues locally to try to find ways to improve services.

"I have been working with dental colleagues locally and our collaboration means that next year we should be able to deliver hundreds more emergency dental appointments every month.

“These improvements in dental services are a small step in the right direction and I’m grateful to dentists and our local health service for working with me in an imaginative way to deliver real improvements,” said Dr Opher, who is also the Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stroud constituency. 

“Sadly, I see patients who’ve resorted to ‘DIY dentistry’ because they’ve been unable to secure an emergency appointment.

"I want to ensure that people are never forced to resort to this again,” he said, adding that he’d also been waiting over a year for an emergency appointment. 

Gloucestershire ICB released a statement on Sunday, October 8, with an update regarding NHS dentistry in the county. 

It said: "Access to NHS dentistry in Gloucestershire is very challenging and we are working hard to try and improve the situation for residents.

"In Gloucestershire, there are 77 NHS dental practices.

"Unfortunately, none of these practices are taking on any new NHS patients at the present time."

"We are actively working with dentists in Gloucestershire, with help from patient representatives, to bring more services on board as we fully recognise that demand for care outweighs the available appointments currently provided.

"A Dental Strategy Group was established in January 2023, with representation from Healthwatch, patients, Gloucestershire Local Dental Committee, NHS England, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust (GHC), Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHT) Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and NHS England South West Dental Network colleagues.

"The group is developing a Primary Care Dental Commissioning Plan for the county, setting out our plans to deliver consistent, high quality dental services and care.

"The plan will focus on three key areas – access, workforce, and oral health improvement and aims to:

  • Increase access to NHS dentistry across Gloucestershire, particularly in some of the county’s most deprived areas
  • Work with One Gloucestershire health and care partners to improve recruitment, retention, and training for all dental staff (e.g. general dental practitioners, hygienists, technicians, and therapists), offering more flexible training and working opportunities and making Gloucestershire a desirable place to live and work
  • Work with our communities to improve the oral health of people across the county, with a particular focus on health inequalities, children, and older people.