The number of free NHS dental treatments in south Worcestershire has fallen by more than a quarter over the last five years, figures reveal.

The British Dental Association says an "aggressive and heavy-handed" policy of automatically fining patients accused of misclaiming free care is fuelling a collapse in attendance in vulnerable groups.

Dentists in the South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group area administered 27,825 courses of treatment in 2018-19 to adults exempt from charges, NHS Digital figures show. Free treatments, which are offered to low-income groups, elderly people, pregnant women and full-time students, have dropped by 27% since 2013-14.

Across England, the number of free procedures fell by a quarter over the same period. The BDA says nearly 400,000 patients a year, including those with learning disabilities, have received fines, some simply for ticking the wrong box on a form.