The NHS has promised to look into its dentistry service in Kirklees after a health watchdog raised a raft of concerns.
Healthwatch Kirklees issued a report this week following a patient investigation.
The group said patients are given misleading information about availability of NHS dentists; ‘significant numbers’ of patients struggle to find an NHS dentist; and NHS contracts seemed inflexible.
Unequal access to NHS dentistry could be contributing to health inequalities, and an issue was developing over dentures for older people.
The group said it would raise examples of poor practice with NHS England.
Healthwatch advisor Shabana Ali said: “Dentistry is a key issue. Last year we spent a long time trying to understand the system, what was not working, and what needs to change. It is clear this is not just a local issue. The real problems come from new NHS dental contracts agreed by NHS England and the department of health.”
Healthwatch Kirklees director Rory Deighton said: “This is a massive and ongoing problem for people in Kirklees.
“Somehow we seem to have forgotten that the NHS should be able to provide all of us with local, accessible dental care.
“One of our key worries is that the most vulnerable will give up in the light of the poor information about, and poor access to NHS dentists. This contributes more to the overall picture of health inequalities in Kirklees.”
The independent group represents patients’ views on healthcare.
An NHS England West Yorkshire spokeswoman said the group would investigate Healthwatch Kirklees’ concerns. She said: “We welcome the report. We are committed to making sure patients have access to high quality dental services in Kirklees.”
“We always strive to improve services for patients where possible.”