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GPs 'Under Pressure' From Dental Patients

Doctors Struggling To Deal With Rising Complaints That Could Be Dealt With By A Dentist


GPs across the UK are struggling to accommodate for a rising number of patients seeking help with dental symptoms that could be dealt with by a dentist, research shows.

A poll commissioned by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) and carried out by ComRes asked 1,000 GPs if they were having problems with the number of patients seeking their help for ulcers or toothaches, reports the BBC.

Some 87 per cent of GPs said that this was the case, something that will concern public health officials who have tried to contain the rising numbers of people using NHS funded services incorrectly.

It is very important that people understand the correct avenues they should explore if they need medical assistance, something that the NHS' struggling 111 service was meant to help address.

While there has been intense press coverage about the shortage of NHS places at dentists' surgeries around the UK, pre-planning and registering with one of these practices before a problem arises can save hundreds of pounds in costs.

But with fewer people in a financial position to take on these costs, it is thought that many are turning to free GP services, which is having a substantial negative impact on the rest of the NHS.

David Worskett, chair of the ADG, commented: "People often think that dentists are focused purely on teeth and gums, but actually, they are specialists in most aspects of oral health and we often find GPs refer patients back to their dentist if there is any treatment required.

"If you have any concerns about oral health-related issues, be it a toothache or a long-term ulcer, you should be visiting your dentist rather than your GP."

The ADG's study comes as part of its wider Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign.
ADG officials are trying to raise awareness about the disease, which currently affects 7,500 people every year.

While the main causes of the cancer are smoking or chewing tobacco, it can affect anybody - even if they have no unhealthy habits.

Expert Opinion
The concerns raised by this poll are worrying and clearly need to be fully investigated to assess what can be done to ensure patients are fully aware of where they need to go for the right support at the right time.

"As well as ensuring patients get the help they need as soon as possible, solving this problem should also ensure effective management of all of the resources across the NHS and ensure that medical professionals are able to stay focused on the issues that they should be providing support on.

"This in turn could help to ensure that all patients are able to get access to safe and timely care, regardless of what they are suffering from."
Julie Lewis, Partner