Dental agony across the UK revealed by collaborative data journalism project

A cross-industry data journalism investigation has revealed heart-breaking stories behind Britain’s dental crisis.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit, which is part of the Corporation’s Local News Partnership with local publishers across the UK, shared research which showed people were having to wait up to two years for access to a dentist.

Headlines included 1,000 dentists dropping NHS work in the last year, the British Dental Association warning of a two-year wait for checkups and patients waiting more than a year for root canal surgery.

The data led to localised stories across the UK, with regional reporters picking up the data and putting it into a local context.

The Northern Echo reported on a Newton Aycliffe mum who now fears she’ll lose her teeth because she can’t find a dentist. ITV in East Anglia revealed how patients are pulling out their own teeth with the BBC in Herefordshire told of a patient making a 150-mile round-trip to a dentist.

The data was also used across JPIMedia titles, Claire Wilde, the company’s data and investigations editor, said.

Chris Burn, political editor at the Yorkshire Post, reported that services in parts of Yorkshire, ‘are hanging by a thread.’ Andrew Nowell shared details of the worst-impacted borough in Greater Manchester for ManchesterWorld while in Scarborough, this already hot-topic issue is being raised in Parliament.

Claire said: “It all echoes the findings of our previous JPI-wide investigation Dentistry in Decay. NHS dentistry is just in a terrible state in England.

“Patients are being failed massively, especially those who can’t afford to go private. It’s been going on for years and it’s maddening.”

The data and research collated by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit can be found here.

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here

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The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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