Calderdale patients face long trips to see a dentist

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Residents in Calderdale are facing long trips to see a dentist. Research suggests that there are currently no practices in Calderdale or Kirklees accepting new NHS patients.

Healthwatch teams in the region have reported a surge in calls from people unable to get appointments, with a growing number of patients struggling to see a local dentist. Representatives from the watchdog contacted all the practices offering NHS services in the area to ask if there were spaces available. They were informed that no places were on offer for adults or children seeking NHS dental care.

In the first three months of 2021, the watchdog received more calls about dental treatment than in the whole of 2020. Backlogs caused by the pandemic and restrictions limiting patient numbers have contributed to long waiting times and more dental surgeries turning away NHS patients.

Healthwatch Calderdale chief executive, Helen Hunter, said that an existing problem has been made worse by the Covid-19 crisis. The watchdog is there to help but Ms Hunter explained that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find dentists offering NHS places and practices providing appointments. At the moment, most dental teams are prioritising urgent cases still and it could be some time before patients are able to access routine and non-emergency dental services.

Urgent dental care is available from local dental practices and via NHS 111 for patients who are not currently on a practice list. Patients can also access triage services and advice via telephone calls and virtual consultations by contacting their regular practice. Advice about minor dental issues can be found on the NHS website.

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