Queues for dentists would be repeated around the country if dental practices were able to take on new NHS patients, experts have said.

Hundreds of people were seen queuing in Bristol after a practice opened up its books for NHS patients.

Labour said that people have joined the queues because they are “desperate” for care.

A video posted on social media on Monday appears to show police community support officers telling patients the queue had “finished” as they urged prospective patients to try their luck another day.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, prospective patients joined the queue for a third day.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said that queues for NHS dentistry would be repeated elsewhere due to the demand for health service dental care.

He told Sky News: “In my own city, in Birmingham, if they opened a new service like that and they asked people to come and register or come along and make appointments, there would probably be a queue just like that.

“We’ve got 12 million people looking for access to NHS dentistry. So what that (queue) visualises is just the sad state the service is currently in.”

People in line outside the St Pauls Dental Practice on Ashley Road, Bristol
People in line outside the St Pauls Dental Practice on Ashley Road, Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Crouch told the PA news agency: “There are towns across this country where any new practice opening would see a repeat of scenes we saw in Bristol.

“The police might want to thank the Government that budgets are so tight we won’t be seeing many grand openings any time soon.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting joined people in the queue in Bristol on Wednesday morning.

He told BBC Breakfast: “It has just gone quarter past seven and there is already a queue of people.

“Those people have been told that the practice isn’t enrolling new patients today, but people are still queuing already on a very cold morning because they’re desperate.

“I have spoken to one woman who had to go private to get some emergency dental work – a bit of patching up with a temporary filling – she’s desperate now to get into this NHS dentists’ because otherwise she’s going to be hit with a bill of potentially thousands of pounds that she can’t afford.

“I spoke to another man who has been waiting three years without a dentist.

“The images that we’ve seen on our TV screens in recent days of people queuing around the block will resonate with millions of people across the country who are in exactly the same position after 14 years of Conservative government.

“And what the Government has announced today, much of which has been lifted from what Labour has announced, as an emergency dental rescue package will go some way to plugging the immediate shortfall, but what it doesn’t do – and what dentists are crying out for – is reform of the dentist contract so we can recruit and retain the NHS dentists we need.”