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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Dentists abused after queue problem
Dentist
Four out of 10 dentists are declining new NHS patients
Staff at a dental surgery who were forced to turn away hundreds of people queueing to get on their NHS list have been subjected to abusive phone calls.

Reception staff at the practice in Carmarthen, west Wales, have been given police support on how to deal with the calls.

A hotline has also been set up to the local police station.

The surgery took on an extra 300 patients after advertising its NHS list, but had to reject more than 300 other people who waited for hours to get on the books on Monday morning.

If you were, say, the 302nd person in that queue, how are you going to feel?
Dentist Nik Patel
Heather Davies, manager of the Brynteg practice, said: "We still had people coming in on Monday afternoon and had about 50 calls on Tuesday morning.

Camped overnight

"We got abusive calls with people saying things such as, 'I know when you finish work'.

The queue for the Carmarthen surgery
Some queued overnight in Carmarthen to get NHS dentistry
"We cannot take that. We will never see abusive patients," she said.

Some people camped outside the practice overnight because of the problems in getting NHS dentistry in the area.

Dentists' leaders say that while west Wales has been particularly hard hit, there are similar problems in many other parts of Britain.

An estimated four out of ten dentists in Wales and England are now turning away new NHS work.

Nik Patel, a partner at the practice, said they they had not been prepared for the number who turned up.

He said: "If you were, say, the 302nd person in that queue, how are you going to feel?"

'Fairest way'

"But I thought it was the fairest way of doing it although we have had quite a few complaints.

Dental examination
Dentists say they are going private because of NHS underfunding
"We are trying to help the public but it has got to be realised we are only human at the end of the day.

"We may be reopening the books in December or January but we are not going to do it this way again because of what has happened.

"What we may do is just put people on a waiting list instead.

"Everyone is going private because the NHS dentist service is underfunded.

"In two years there will be new contracts for dentists too, and this could make more people go private because we do not know what will be in them.

"But we are going to have an NHS service here in Carmarthen for five years."




SEE ALSO:
Dentist shortage - hundreds queue
28 Jul 03  |  South West Wales
Less than half have NHS dentists
11 Apr 03  |  Health
'My search for an NHS dentist'
19 Sep 02  |  Health


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