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Bid To Improve Care And Health With New Cornwall Dental Scheme

Improvements To Dental Care In Cornwall Are Being Proposed


A new dental care scheme looks set to be launched in Cornwall, in a bid to both improve the service patients receive and their general health.

Earlier this year, a survey carried out by Healthwatch Cornwall discovered that almost half of respondents were not registered with an NHS dentist, with a lack of available places and long journeys to travel to practices putting many people off signing up for such care.

However, the poll found that 56 per cent of the 664 respondents said they would like to be registered with an NHS practice.

One patient who had a particularly bad experience trying to get an NHS dentist place was Chris Hancock from St Austell, who stated he would "rather lose teeth", than embark on a "monumental trek" to Liskeard for treatment.

NHS England area team director Anthony Farnsworth explained: "NHS England operates a helpline to assist people in finding local dentists accepting NHS patients and it maintains a waiting list for patients seeking routine dental care in those areas without immediate access."

To attempt to tackle the issue, Healthwatch Cornwall has published three recommendations that it wants NHS England to take note of, with these including longer dental surgery opening times, improved awareness of how many places are available and exploring new options for dental provision in Bude, Launceston, Callington and Liskeard.

In particular, there are proposals to place a greater focus on promoting the NHS helpline, which can help people to find a practice close to them, with calls for information cards to be displayed in public places to advertise the number.

Chief executive of a Liskeard practice that has been piloting extended opening hours since July Debbie Pritchard commented: "We are pleased that NHS England's area team has taken note of our recommendations and is working towards making NHS dental care accessible to all."

NHS England highlighted national figures show that 93 per cent of people living in England who attempted to get an appointment with an NHS dentist during the last two years were in fact successful.

Expert Opinion
Providing access to high-quality dental care should always be a top priority for the NHS and it is positive that steps are being taken in Cornwall to improve the quality of care available to local people. Extending opening times, exploring new options for dental care and increasing awareness of dental provisions are all positive measures and will ensure patients can access the treatment they need in their local area.

“It is vital these changes to the provision of dental care in the region are extended to other areas where accessing treatment can be difficult for patients, as a failure to correct the failings within the current system could put the health and safety of patients at serious risk.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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