Cumbria community dental services launch upskilling initiative to tackle waiting lists

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Community and special care dental services in Cumbria have launched new upskilling initiatives in a bid to reduce waiting times and enable more local patients to benefit from sedation services.

Teams across the county, which operate from hospitals including Westmorland General Hospital, have introduced measures to upskill dental therapists, nurses and dentists to enable them to administer sedation. This will enable practices to offer this service to more patients, and hopefully, reduce waiting times.

Cumbria is currently in the grip of a dental access crisis, as practices struggle to recruit new dentists and patients face lengthy trips to get an appointment. Local MP, Tim Farron, has been very vocal about the problem, and urged the government to take urgent action to improve access to dental services in his constituency, as well as other regions badly affected by NHS dentist shortages.

Mr Farron welcomed news of the upskilling initiative, which will benefit patients who require urgent or complex dental treatment, but he insisted that there is a long way to go. While the initiative will benefit patients, it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem, and many patients in the area are still struggling to get an appointment with a local NHS dentist. Mr Farron met with representatives of the British Association of Dental Therapists recently as part of his efforts to bring the issue of poor access to the fore.

Clinical director at Cumbria’s special care and community dental service, Natalie Carman, explained that the scheme was already proving beneficial, as previously, training had to be completed in a different county. Nine dental professionals have already completed their training as part of the initiative, and there are many more who will follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

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