NHS dentistry is "hanging by a thread" with a Worcester practice claiming increased pressure and staff shortages are driving people out of the sector.

NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG saw the number of dentists drop by 8 per cent from 2020 to 2021, with 33 dentists leaving the sector.

Across England and Wales, a total of 2,500 dentists stopped treating NHS patients and, with many practices suffering difficulties in terms of recruitment, this has led to major staff shortages.

A spokesperson for MyDentist, which claims to be Europe’s largest dental service and has a branch on Ankerage Green in Worcester, has said there simply isn’t enough dentists to keep up with current demand.

“Dentists are working extremely hard to see as many patients as possible, but the reality is there aren’t enough NHS dentists to treat all of the patients in the UK who want to access NHS treatment,” they said.

“There is a growing workforce shortage, NHS dentists are facing increasing pressures, and many are considering leaving the profession altogether.

“We’re always trying to recruit new dentists, especially in areas such as Worcester where we know there is great need and where we are unable to accept new NHS patients at our local practices.

“Last year alone the area saw an eight per cent reduction in the number of NHS clinicians practising, but this isn’t a localised issue, it’s a challenge for all dental practices in all parts of the UK.”

Chairman of the British Dental Association, Shawn Charlwood, has warned this trend cannot continue.

He said: “NHS dentistry is hanging by a thread, because without NHS dentists, there will be no NHS dentistry.

“Every dentist that is lost or every vacancy for NHS dentistry that remains unfilled affects thousands of patients.”

MPs are aware of the dentistry crisis at hand.

Worcester's MP Robin Walker said: "Over a number of years I have worked with constituents to make sure we have a good supply of NHS dentists in Worcester.

"I have not heard recently from people that this is a major concern but of course I am always happy to lobby my colleagues and work with local dentists to improve the service.”

While Mid Worcestershire’s Nigel Huddleston added: “I have made representations to my colleagues in government about the availability of dentist care and have received assurances that they are working to increase levels of service as fast and as safely as possible,” he said.

He added that there are nearly 700 urgent dental care centres open across England for those requiring immediate treatment.

“I support the Government in the steps it is taking to recruit and improve retention of dentists and dental care professionals.

“The NHS People Plan published in 2020 acknowledged that there is a shortage of dentists nationally, which the NHS is committed to addressing.”

Meanwhile, an NHS England and Improvement (Midlands) spokesperson added: "The NHS has taken unprecedented action to support NHS dentists throughout the pandemic by providing full income protection for practices unable to deliver their usual levels of activity.

"People should continue to come forward for the dental care they need, and the care and treatment of people who need it most should be prioritised."