SENIOR council figures have said they are “hammering” health bosses to improve dental services in Shropshire.

The struggle to get an appointment with an NHS dentist was highlighted again at a Shropshire Council meeting, with councillors saying the local picture was a reflection of a wider “national crisis”.

A motion on the topic from the opposition Liberal Democrat group urged the council to push for improvements from the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System, which is responsible for planning and delivering local health services.


However, the motion failed to win support, with the council’s ruling Conservatives saying the matter was already in hand.

It comes after a report published last month revealed the impact of the pandemic was comparable to every dental surgery in Shropshire having been closed for a year.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Alex Wagner, on behalf of Councillor Bernie Bentick who was not able to attend the meeting.

The motion called on the council to liaise with the ICS to “ensure there is sufficient funding and dentist availability”, and demand that the ICS update its records of dentist availability across the county.

It also said local dental provision should be regularly scrutinised by the council’s health scrutiny committee.

Councillor Wagner said it was particularly concerning that only 50 of the county’s 68 NHS dental practices were listed on the NHS’s ‘find a dentist’ site.

Of these, he said only six were accepting new child patients.

Councillor Julia Evans said: “This is not just a local crisis, it’s a national crisis.

“It’s really not worth dentists being in the NHS – they are paid far more being a private enterprise."

Labour group leader Councillor Julia Buckley said dentist shortages were a “national disgrace”, and a result of the government’s “choice to deliberately and systematically withdraw funding from the NHS”.

The council’s ruling Conservatives said that while they agreed the state of dentist services in the county was a major concern, the authority was already doing all it could to push for improvements.

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Councillor Cecilia Motley, cabinet member for adult social care, public health and communities, pointed out that the issue was discussed last month by the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board and was “very much on the radar of the ICS”.

Council leader Councillor Lezley Picton said: “I don’t see the point approving a motion for things we are already doing.

“We are hammering the ICS to try and ensure we get the best services for Shropshire.”

The motion fell with 26 votes for and 38 against.