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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
'My search for an NHS dentist'
Ms Edwards had a broken tooth
Ms Edwards had a broken tooth
Four out of 10 dentists refuse to take on new NHS patients, a report has revealed.

Deborah Edwards tells BBC News Online about her extensive search for a dentist who would treat her.


Three years ago Deborah Edwards had a broken tooth and the pain was preventing her eating properly.

Ms Edwards, who was living in Coleford, near Frome in Somerset, suffered for months before starting her search for an NHS dentist.

"A bit of my tooth had fallen out and I needed to find a dentist as I hadn't been to one for years. I needed emergency care," she said.

"The nearest place was Frome, but I couldn't find anywhere there. And there was nowhere that would take people in Redstock or even Bath.


Some people are in a better position to get better health care than others

Deborah Edwards
"Bath was around an hour away on the bus, quite a long way away.

"My situation was made worse by the fact that I can't drive."

Ms Edwards, a multi-media artist, eventually found a dentist in Bristol, which is an hour away by car from her home.

"They were really thoughtful and friendly," she said.

Equal access

When she was eventually seen by the dentist, Ms Edwards had to have her broken tooth filed and have a crown fitted.

She said she was disappointed at having to work so hard to find a dentist.

Deborah Edwards
Deborah Edwards struggled to find dental care
Her partner, Dan Belgen, who was also looking for an NHS dentist at around the same time, found a practice in Frome.

But he was the last NHS patient the practice was taking on.

Ms Edwards, who now lives in Emborough on the Somerset border, said: "I'm very angry. It's all down to the fact that some people are in a better position to get better health care than others.

"In an ideal world, everyone would have the same kind of access to treatment."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"Most people complain that they can't even see an NHS dentist"
See also:

18 Sep 02 | Health
06 Aug 02 | Health
03 Jan 02 | Health
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