Lack of dental treatment from the NHS turns dentistry into a ‘medieval system’, Lancashire residents have claimed.
Residents of West Lancashire have expressed concerns over the lack of NHS dentist appointments, with some saying they cannot register at all.
Sara McGonigal, 48, a Skelmersdale resident, says her dental office told her she was struck off the register over the summer.
She said she found out that her dental practice, Firbeck Dental Surgery, had taken her off the books because she had not been in contact with them.
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She said residents of Skelmersdale were in general upset about the shortage of dentists in the town and there were concerns that medical services such as doctors and dentists who were already struggling to cope could be strained. hardship due to new real estate developments.
‘They took me off the register – it’s an automatic thing, because if you get reminders and you don’t go, they have to make room for new NHS patients.
âI admit that. But what confuses people in general is that dentists look after private patients but not NHS patients.
âMy advice is to everyone not to wait for it to be urgent – register with an NHS dentist as soon as you can.
âI think there is a general shortage of dentists by the minute in the country.
âIt would make sense to have more dentists and doctors. Doctor’s appointments are also a big problem.
âIt’s hard to say if the lockdown affected him because obviously dentists didn’t want to put themselves in danger of catching Covid. But at the end of the day, if people need dental care, there has to be someone out there who is ready to take care of them.
She added that she had found Firbeck dental surgery excellent in the past, as well as the NHS Walk in Center’s special needs dental service at the Concourse which treats her daughter, Chloe. Sara says the surgery told her she was on a waiting list for NHS dental treatment and will contact her as soon as a spot becomes available.
Still, mum Rachel Lynch, of Beacon Green, told Lancs Live earlier this week that she was unable to register her two sons, Tommy, with an NHS dentist in the city.
Highlighting how she feared new housing would only add to the existing strain on the city’s health services, she said there was already a shortage of dentists and doctors in Skelmersdale.
She added: âIn terms of resources, my little boy is two years old and we can’t even get him registered with a dentist – he’s never even been to a dentist because there’s no room anywhere. There are just too many people here now and you cannot get a dentist appointment or be seen by a doctor. There are no resources in Skelmersdale as is.
Their concerns are supported by many other residents of the city.
Some commented on social media that they called all dentists in town and were unable to register as NHS patients, with one even claiming to have used telephone dentists in Scotland due to the high cost of getting dental treatment from the NHS in England.
Rob Eccles commented on Facebook: âIt’s impossible. If you call a dentist in Scotland some will take care of it but there could be a delay. Yes, this is what I used to save Â£ 1,700 that I don’t have.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper supported their concerns, criticizing NHS England and the Department of Health and Welfare for failing to support NHS dentistry in Lancashire as well as across the country.
She said people have been told they can wait years in line to get places on an NHS dentist’s register, while elsewhere some practices have even removed hundreds of patients of the NHS from their lists.
Dental offices, both NHS and private, had raised concerns about the lack of support they were given at the height of the pandemic, she added, due to restrictions on dental procedures. This meant NHS treatment was becoming an unsustainable business model, they had said, leaving them to seriously consider quitting their NHS contracts to focus on private patients.
In a statement titled ‘Has the NHS abandoned dentistry? MP Rosie Cooper said, “During the pandemic, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Chief Dentist on several occasions to raise this exact issue, as I had heard directly from a number of dentists. talk about the pressures they were facing!
âI am aware that this issue has also been raised by the British Dental Association and other MPs, but it seems the failure of the NHS to take this seriously has resulted in a national crisis.
âWorryingly, without enough NHS dentists available, people who cannot afford the much higher private costs will have no way of accessing dental care until they have an emergency.
“Are we really letting this become a medieval system where some people can only get treatment when they need emergency tooth extraction?”
âWe cannot allow there to be a financial barrier to accessing important health care like dental care. The NHS must take urgent action to increase the dental capacity of the NHS or risk this crisis becoming a full scale disaster! “
A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement (North West) said: ‘Dentistry has been extremely strained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Practices have been urged to prioritize patients who require the completion of pre-COVID-19 treatment plans alongside high-risk patients and children, where appropriate and based on clinical need.
âAnyone with dental pain or in need of support, help or advice can call their own dental office in the usual way. If they do not have a regular dentist and have an urgent need, they can contact the dental assistance service on 0300 1234 010.
Firbeck Dental Surgery declined to comment.
The Department of Health and Welfare and the West Lancashire Borough Council have been contacted for comment.
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