I can recall a time more than a few years ago when I phoned my dentist to make an appointment for a check-up.

The dental surgery I used was the same one my children had gone to when they were young so I was a frequent visitor. I didn’t expect any issues.

To be honest, I couldn’t quite remember how long it had been since my previous check-up but I took comfort from the fact my dentists always contacted me to remind me I needed to make an appointment.

But things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had imagined they would.

The conversation went something like: Me: Hi, can I make an appointment for a check-up please?

Dentists: Certainly. What’s your name?

I answered but then there was a long pause from the receptionist. I finally got a reply.

Dentists: I’m sorry, you’re not registered at this practice.

Me: I’m sure I am. I’ve been there loads of times. Can you check please?

Dentists: I’ve checked. You were registered here but you’ve not been for more than 12 months so you have been de-registered.

Me: You never contacted me to say a check-up was due.

Dentists: Sorry, we sometimes remind people to book an appointment but otherwise it’s your responsibility.

Me: OK. Can I re-register then?

Dentists: No, not as an NHS patient. The list is closed.

Me: What are my options?

Dentists: Well, we can take you as a private patient and then we could see you in a couple of days. Or you can try to find another practice that is accepting NHS patients.

This story had a happy ending (if any trip to the dentists can be considered happy). I was very lucky to find a dental surgery near where I worked and then a year or so later I was able to transfer to a new surgery close to home.

My dental travails were probably about 15 or so years ago. So the question I would ask is have things improved in the interim? Well the answer is no, absolutely not. The evidence indicates that things are much, much worse.

There are some real horror stories on social media about patients simply being removed from NHS lists – even those who couldn’t make it to see their dentists during the Covid pandemic. And appointments being cancelled and re-booked for months and months later.

So I wish all the very best to those who now want or need to get on an NHS dental list because you are going to need all the luck in the world.

As the Warrington Guardian revealed, not one dentist practice in Warrington is accepting NHS adult patients.

So you basically have a stark choice – stump up the cash and go private or suffer in silence as your teeth rot in your mouth.

So who is to blame? Well, ask yourself which party has been in power, holding the purse strings for the past 13 years. There’s your answer.

  • On another topic, I think it’s fair to say I haven’t been the biggest fan of Warrington South MP Andy Carter over the years But credit where it’s due, he certainly impressed me when he put party politics to one side as a member of the House of Commons Privileges Committee which ruled that former prime minister Boris Johnson had lied to Parliament.

Johnson would have faced a humiliating suspension of 90 days from the Commons for deliberately misleading MPs had he not quit his seat in protest. The former prime minister was also been found to have been ‘complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Privileges Committee and its members’, including Mr Carter.

You may recall that the Privileges Committee is usually chaired by Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda. Mr Bryant was recently interviewed by a journalist from the website politics.co.uk and the subject of the Privileges Committee inevitably came up.

So step forward our very own Andy Carter.

According to politics.co.uk, Bryant spoke glowingly of his committee colleagues, singling out at one point Conservative MP Andy Carter’s “extraordinary maturity, resilience and decency”.

High praise indeed. Take a bow Mr Carter. Sounds like you deserve it.