THE new NHS dental surgery on the Isle of Wight has been besieged by thousands of patients within just a few months of opening its doors.
And with only one dentist to treat more than 4,000 patients, the waiting time for a check-up already stands at three months.
Given the shortage of NHS dentists on the Island, patients have flocked to the East Cowes Dental Walk-in Centre, at the medical centre in Church Path, even if it means waiting until November for an appointment.
Manager Cathy Easom admitted the surgery was already overloaded and said another full-time dentist was desperately needed. But she said the situation would improve in the autumn, when two part-time dentists were due to join the team.
"There was a massive rush as soon as we opened. We are desperately looking for another dentist but they are hard to recruit. There are no unemployed dentists on the Isle of Wight so it means moving here," she said.
"We are coping at the moment but there are long waiting times — we are taking bookings for check-ups in November. People are more than willing to wait though, they just want to get on the books at an NHS dentist."
The dental walk-in centre — which offers emergency slots twice a day as well as routine appointments — was officially opened earlier this month by Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for England, but has been treating patients since March.
It has a contract with NHS England for 5,000 patients, and will continue to take on small numbers to reach its quota until the two new dentists are appointed in September and October.