ONE in four dentists in Bolton are reported to have quit undertaking NHS work over the past year.

Forty-eight such specialists are said to have ceased working in public health, according to the Association of Dental Groups (ADG).

This comes after The Bolton News revealed two weeks ago that enquiries about the availability of dentists in Greater Manchester had risen six-fold in lockdown.

One pensioner in Bolton reported he had spent £1,000 on fillings and despaired at the prospect of having to find more money for future work. Others complained to Healthwatch Bolton of fruitless hunts for dentists locally.

The question of dentists’ NHS availability in the borough has emerged as the ADG responds to the release of the NHS Dental Statistics for England 2020-21.

The departing 48 dentists for Bolton were part of the 951 now thought to have ditched NHS work in surgeries. Bolton is among four NHS clinical commissioning areas - alongside Barnsley, Portsmouth and West Suffolk, to record 20 per cent plus drops in NHS numbers.

Neil Carmichael, the ADG’s chairman, said: “These figures are the latest proof the number of dentists working in the NHS is plummeting in many of the areas where they are most needed.

“A perfect storm of a broken NHS contract, stressful working conditions during the pandemic and the consequence of Brexit means that now across the whole of England, dentists are leaving the NHS.”

He called for a major increased in the provision of dental training places.